Right of Reply: George B Kirya

The Ugandan High Commissioner replies to our recent report on civil rights abuses in his country
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YOUR ARTICLE entitled "Uganda abuses bring regime of fear back to heart of Africa" was filled with many untruths. For almost two decades after independence in 1962, Uganda suffered from economic chaos, lawlessness, human rights violations, dictatorship, instability and war. This situation was resisted by Ugandans and in 1986, a new government took over, in order to end state-inspired violence against the population, restore democracy and revive the economy.

Political sanity has since been restored and the culture of democracy and constitutionalism entrenched. The country has a directly elected President as well as grassroot-based democracy. There is rule of law in the country and human rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. Institutional mechanisms have been put in place to safeguard the rights of the people. One such institution is the independent Uganda Human Rights Commission.

The government is steadfast in its commitment to safeguard the rights of the people and nobody is an exception. The Internal Security Organisation (ISO) referred to in the article, is an accountable organisation which operates within the remit of the law. Comparing ISO to former security agencies, because it uses the same building is absurd. Operations by ISO and other security forces in the discharge of their duties are not along sectarian lines e.g. religion and tribe, but are done professionally and objectively.

Since 1986, the government has had to contend with lawlessness and rebellion from elements of the former regimes. The national army and the security agencies have succeeded in defeating these elements, who have now resorted to cowardly terrorist attacks. They have murdered, maimed and abducted innocent civilians and the government is determined to stop their activities and it will not compromise in dealing with terrorism. The government is committed to ensuring that all those apprehended get the fair, speedy, and public trials before courts of law.