Dear President Museveni:
Human Rights Watch is writing to you to express concern about the fate of fourteen men detained without charge since August 2003. According to our information, the men were arrested by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATF) in Kampala. In late August, four of the men were removed from JATF detention facilities by an officer of Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI), which forms part of the JATF, and allegedly executed at a place in Katikamu subcounty, Luwero district. The names of three of those believed killed are Ismael Muviru, Mutwabil Walakira, and Capt. Sewamuwa Daudi; the name of the fourth man executed is unknown. The executions took place on or about September 1, 2003. A relative of Sewamuwa Daudi is said to have complained of his arrest to the Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) in September 2003, but has had no response so far. When Human Rights Watch inquired about the case, the UHRC said it had no record of the complaint.
The JATF took none of the detainees to police stations or other officially recognized places of detention, but rather to what are commonly referred to as "safe houses" or "ungazetted places of detention" in Kampala. Some were reportedly ill-treated. Most if not all of the detainees were said to be held at the "safe house" in Clement Hills, Kampala. Their current whereabouts, however, are not known. The names of the ten remaining detainees are:
Dr. Freddie Mubiru (arrested in Kampala environs)
Lt. Muwaka Salongo
Ismael Sebuufu (aka Medi Kasuja)
Sam Namutete (arrested in Kampala environs)
Muzeeyi Muwanga (arrested in Kampala environs)
Armstrong Okumo (detained on Kireka Road, Kampala)
Musafiri Macheko (possibly Kenyan nationality)
Waiswa Ngobi (detained in Mbale, eastern Uganda)
Lt. Iga Bukenya (said to have been arrested in Nairobi)
We are observing with growing concern that such cases of detention by government security forces such as CMI, JATF, the army, the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), and militias close to the government are taking place frequently. In many cases the agents of these security forces wear civilian clothes with no identifying insignia.. According to testimonies we have gathered, detainees have been held in army barracks in different parts of the country, at CMI headquarters and, as in this case , at a facility controlled by the Joint Anti Terrorism Task Force in Kampala. Detainees have been held in overcrowded cells and sometimes tortured.
Human Rights Watch requests you to order a full, independent, judicial enquiry into the fourteen cases named above, with a mandate to discover where the detainees are being held, whether there were grounds for their detention, and whether the four alleged to have been executed were in fact killed. The enquiry should also investigate other alleged cases of detention by CMI and JATF, seeking to identify where detainees were held, the grounds for their detention, whether they were ill-treated or tortured, and whether any detainees died while in custody. The results of this investigation should be made public.
All government agents found to have been involved in human rights abuses-including those in charge of the locations where the detainees were held and their superior officers-should be prosecuted in accordance with international fair trial standards. Victims of human rights abuse, or their families, should be awarded adequate damages. If there is evidence that those detained have committed any recognizable criminal offence, charges should be brought against them; if there is insufficient evidence to charge them, they should be released immediately and unconditionally. If charged, they should be promptly brought to trial before the regular courts, with respect for their rights under the Ugandan constitution and international law.
We also ask you to publicly clarify the legal status of the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force, in particular its command structure, its powers, and its relation with CMI and Internal Security Organization (ISO). State agencies that have not been created under clear legal authority should be disbanded.
We appreciate your attention to these important matters.
Human Rights Watch