A coalition of 40 rights organiations on Friday urged the Ugandan government to facilitate independent and transparent investigations with international expertise into the November 2016 killings of civilians in Kasese.

The organisations also want the government to hold security forces accountable for their actions in the massacre.

The groups urged the government to invite relevant African Commission experts and United Nations special rapporteurs to participate in investigations for credible and balanced investigations.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) Africa Director, Maria Burnett told reporters in Kampala that although the government had dedicated significant resources to investigating alleged crimes by civilians during the incident in November 2016, there was still no probe into killings by the security forces.

Ugandan security forces set the palace of the local tribal king on fire

During three days of clashes, Ugandan security forces attacked an administrative building belonging to the local tribal king and then laid siege to the royal palace compound in the south-western town of Kasese.

HRW say they have documented the deaths of 155 people in the days of fierce fighting.
“It is a massive event that happened in Kasese, the largest number of people who have been killed in a single event in Uganda since the height of the LRA war,” said Burnett.
“The victims of November’s violence have a right to justice and they have a right under Ugandan and international law to demand accountability,” she added.

The Uganda Law Society, and Human Rights Network (HURINET) called for a commission of inquiry involving both parties involved in the clashes in November. Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Human Rights Watch, individuals and organizations of Uganda’s women’s movement, and many other groups have urged accountability for the killings over the past six months.

What they say:

Nicholas Opiyo, the Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda.

“Victims in Kasese deserve answers about what happened in November and why.The hallmark of a professional military is a willingness to scrutinize the conduct of its soldiers, and Uganda should not seek to avoid that responsibility.”

Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

“The world is watching how the government of Uganda responds to the Kasese killings. Nothing less than a comprehensive, credible, and independent investigation is acceptable – particularly into the role played by security forces in the deaths of over one hundred Ugandans.”

Arthur Larok, country director of ActionAid Uganda.

“At a time when the public trust in many inconclusive investigations into several murders in Uganda continues to wane, the government ought to accept international cooperation and support to restore trust in its commitment to investigate and act on these atrocities.”

Livingstone Ssewanyana, Executive Director of FHRI 

“These calls for justice will not go away without a commitment to transparency by the Ugandan government. We remain deeply concerned that the November violence is yet another example of an unnecessary use of lethal force by Uganda security forces that violates UN standards.”