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Ugandan soldiers patrol near the house of Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine in Magere, Uganda. Photo Sally Hayden / SOPA Images / Sipa via AP Images


(Nairobi) – Ugandan authorities should take immediate steps to end the ongoing abductions by suspected state agents and cease the unlawful detention without trial of opposition supporters, Human Rights Watch said today.

On March 4, 2021, Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo presented a list to parliament of 177 people in military detention who had been arrested between November 18, 2020, and February 8, 2021, allegedly for “participating in riots,” “possession of military stores,” and “meetings planning post-election violence.” On March 8, in a public letter to the media, President Yoweri Museveni said that 50 people are being held by the Special Forces Command, a unit of the Ugandan army, for “treasonable acts of elements of the opposition.”

On November 18, security forces had clamped down on protesters demanding the release of the then-detained opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

“The recent spate of enforced disappearances has only compounded the intense climate of fear in Uganda following the recent violent national elections,” said Oryem Nyeko, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should urgently investigate these disappearances and other abuses and hold those responsible, including members of security forces, to account.”

The authorities should investigate all cases of enforced disappearances to determine the whereabouts and status of all victims, release all those arbitrarily detained, and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said. Anyone lawfully detained should have immediate access to their family and lawyers, and anyone not yet charged and placed in pretrial detention, should be released in accordance with the law.

Between February 17 and March 3, Human Rights Watch spoke with 10 relatives of people abducted, witnesses, opposition members, and civil society members, in Kampala. Witnesses described how armed men picked up people off the streets or from their homes and took them away in unmarked vans without numbered license plates; commonly referred to in Uganda as “Drones.” Human Rights Watch spoke to victims who said that their abductors beat and detained them in “safe houses” and questioned them about their political affiliation or their role in the protests, then dropped them off at random locations. The circumstances of many others who were abducted and taken to safe houses is unknown.

Shadia Nakaweesi said that on November 20, about 20 men in black police uniforms broke into her home, beat her 34-year-old husband, Hassan Mubiru, then drove him away in a black “Drone.” Nakaweesi said that when she tried to report him missing at a nearby police station, the officers refused to accept the complaint. Her husband’s whereabouts remains unknown.

A victim, Alvin Ddamulira, said that six armed men abducted him, his 51-year-old father, John Ddamulira, and three others at their spare parts shop at Kisekka market in Kampala on November 21. The men blindfolded, handcuffed, and beat them, then drove them in a white “Drone” to an unmarked building, where, he said, a man told them, “You people from Kisekka market, stop rioting. The president is not happy about what you are doing.” At 1 a.m. the following day, the abductors dumped four of the men in Bweyogerere, 12 kilometers from Kisekka Market. John Ddamulira was not released and has not been heard from since.

On November 24, Rose Nakayiza said, she was told by a friend that her husband, Rashid Kalunda, 32, had been taken away in a “Drone” by men in black uniforms, with two others – Fred Jingo and Sunday Mwange – from Owino market in Kampala. Nakayiza said that her efforts to locate her husband in several police stations and the military intelligence office have so far been fruitless.

On March 5, Kyagulanyi’s party, the National Unity Platform, said that 423 members and supporters had been abducted and were still missing, and another 41 had been released by their abductors.

On February 8, media reported that Ronald Segawa, who had been missing since late January, was found dumped unconscious at the Mulago hospital morgue in Kampala. The next day Kyagulanyi shared pictures of Segawa’s scarred body on Twitter during a visit to him in a hospital, saying that he had been burned, electrocuted, and had his fingernails plucked out allegedly for campaigning for Kyagulanyi.

The Ugandan constitution, in line with international human rights norms, requires the authorities to produce anyone accused of a crime in court within 48 hours and to ensure the detainees’ right of access to a lawyer, and their family and to receive any needed medical attention.

An enforced disappearance occurs when agents of the state, or organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the government, deprive someone of their liberty and then refuse to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty; or to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned, placing them outside the protection of the law.

The January 14 elections were characterized by widespread violence and human rights violations during which security forces clamped down on opposition members and journalists, violently arresting scores of people, including Kyagulanyi and Patrick Amuriat, another presidential candidate, multiple times. The authorities also shut down the internet for five days, and blocked access to social media websites for a month.

On February 5, 2020, Uganda’s parliamentary human rights committee released a report in which they found that security forces detained and tortured people in unofficial detention facilities across Uganda, commonly known as “safe houses.”

Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and inhuman or degrading treatment and torture are strictly prohibited at all times under international, regional, and Ugandan law. The prohibition not only obligates governments to comply with the law, but entails a duty to investigate when suspected violations occur and prosecute those responsible. Enforced disappearances and torture may also constitute and be prosecuted as a crime against humanity if they form part of a state-sponsored policy or practice, or are part of a broader attack against civilians by state authorities.

“The Ugandan authorities should act immediately to stop the egregious violations that have taken place since the elections, including by releasing those held incommunicado, shutting down all secret detention facilities, and holding those responsible to account,” Nyeko said. “The government should respect political plurality and end the harassment of opposition members.” - Human Rights Watch

Austria’s national medicines regulator has suspended use of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after four patients were diagnosed with dangerous blood clotting conditions after receiving their jab.

One person died of multiple thrombosis – formation of blood clots within blood vessels – 10 days after their vaccine, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism – where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs – but is now recovering.

As of Tuesday this week, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients that had received a dose from the same batch.


The EMA said there is currently no evidence that the vaccine caused the conditions, and that thrombosis is not listed as a potential side effect of the vaccine.

It said that the batch labelled ABV5300 comprised one million doses and had been delivered to 17 EU countries.

Four other countries – Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia – have now suspended its use to allow time for the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) to conduct an investigation.

The EMA said: “Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated.”

It said PRAC were investigating the thrombosis conditions linked to the same batch as well as all other reports of thrombosis and related blood clotting conditions reported post-vaccination.

“The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population,” it said.

The EMA said as of Tuesday, there had been 22 reports of such conditions among the three million people to receive the AstraZeneca jab in the European Economic Area.

It said further information would be released as the investigation progresses.  AstraZeneca has been approached for comment. PA/Yahoo News

Photo WAM


ABU DHABI, 8th March, 2021 (WAM) -- Rwanda and the UAE share a common vision on women empowerment, according to Rwandan Ambassador to the UAE.

In a statement marking International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on 8th March, Emmanuel Hategeka said, "Today, we celebrate women in leadership positions across national, regional and global institutions."

He cited the recent election of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert, as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, and Rwandan Economist Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa as the vice-chairperson of the African Union Commission, as examples.

"One can draw parallels with the equally laudable successful Hope Probe Mission to Mars and the magnificent groundbreaking Expo 2020 officially starting in October of 2021 in Dubai – both historic with women leaders at the helm," Okonjo-Iweala said.

With high levels of women participation in the UAE Cabinet and women making up 66 percent of the public sector workforce in the Emirates, according to the UAE Gender Balance Council data, the country is arguably leading the region in gender parity, the envoy pointed out.

He explained that after the devastating effects of the 1994 genocide, which destroyed the socioeconomic fabric of Rwanda, the government placed gender equality and women’s empowerment at the forefront as full recovery could only be possible with women and men equally contributing to the country’s vision for development.

Rwanda is now a global leader in women participation in legislative decision-making positions with 61.3 percent female members of parliament and ranked ninth globally in closing gender gaps according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, he said.

"Also, 52 percent of the Cabinet members are women, among the Judges and clerks, women stand at 49.7 percent while in the local government leadership, women occupy 45.2 percent as Members of District Councils," he added. "As we mark the International Women’s Day of 2021, a lot remains to be done to achieve gender equality, let us all together strive for a world where equality and equity prevail." - WAM/Binsal Abdulkader/MOHD AAMIR

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