The Ugandan government must immediately investigate the reported recent execution of four detainees by state security agents, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also reveal the whereabouts of 10 others arbitrarily detained, and must charge or release them.

The four men reportedly executed were among 14 detained in August by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATF), a joint unit drawn from several state security agencies. The men were apparently executed because they were accused of having links to a rebel group.

The 14 detainees were taken to several secret places of detention where some were reportedly mistreated, and their current whereabouts remain unknown. Human Rights Watch learned that the Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI), a security agency of the JATF, took four of the detainees, and that they were executed around September 1 in Katikamu subcounty, Luwero district in central Uganda.

“The government agents implicated in serious rights violations must be prosecuted in accordance with international standards for fair trials,” said Jemera Rone, researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. “As for the men arbitrarily arrested, they should be immediately charged with recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial or released without delay.”

In an open letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Human Rights Watch urges a full and independent investigation of the four executions, the detention of the 14 men, and the practice of detention by CMI and JATF in general.

Human Rights Watch also urges the government to clarify the legal status of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force and its relation to other security agencies, in particular the Chieftaincy Military Intelligence and the Internal Security Organization. The Ugandan government should cease the practice of detention without charge or at undisclosed places of detention.