The office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations has written to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government apologizing over National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters who disrupted Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s submission before the committee against torture in Palais Wilson in Geneva.
In a letter dated 16th November, 2022, seen by this investigative website, the UN extended its regret to the Ugandan government over protestors who claimed that they were human rights activists and interrupted the proceedings of the commissioners.
In their letter, the UN said, “The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights presents its compliments to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva and has the honour to refer to the Permanent Mission’s Note Verbale, GVA-UN/TECH/52, dated 11 November 2022, concerning an incident that took place in the context of the examination of the second periodic report of Uganda at the 1954th meeting of the Committee against Torture in Palais Wilson on 10 November 2022.
“The office of the High Commissioner notes that the persons in question had been duly registered through the usual registration process to attend the meeting as observers and they went through a standard X-ray security check for any metallic objects prior to entering Palais Wilson, which did not disclose any reason for security concern.
“As with all registered non-governmental observers, they had also been duly informed that, while the meeting in question was public, only representatives of the State party and members of the committee were entitled to take the floor.”
The office explained that when the protests started, the UN staff present in the room immediately informed the UN Security personnel of the disturbance in the room and the audio input to the audio-visual webcast feed was muted.
The office added that the security personnel moved in and urged the protesters to cease their actions and ordered them to move out of the room.
The letter further reads, “The Office of the High Commissioner has the honour to respectfully advise that, immediately after the start of the protest, staff present informed UN security personnel of the disturbance in the room, cut the audio input to the audio-visual webcast feed, and moved to urge the protesters to cease their action and distance themselves from proximity to the podium.
“The first security officer arrived from Palais Wilson’s external security pavilion to the conference room located at the end of the East Wing of the first floor of Palais Wilson approximately two minutes after the beginning of the protest, and immediately moved to remove the individuals in question from the meeting room. Security personnel confiscated the protest materials the individuals in question had improperly deployed, before removing the individuals from Palais Wilson premises and revoking their access badges.”
They added that feasible steps have been taken to ensure that there is no future repetition of such an incident, with respect to any State party delegation.
“The office of the High Commissioner reiterates its sincere regret that the events in question took place and expresses its continuing appreciation for the constructive engagement of the Government of Uganda with the United Nations treaty bodies and with the office itself.”
The letter was a reply to a protest letter from Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the incident where Bobi Wine supporters stormed the committee room shouting on top of their voices and accusing AG Kiwanuka of spreading lies that there is no human rights violation in Uganda.
The protestors told the committee members that in Uganda, opposition supporters are being abducted, tortured and kept in safe houses for a long period before being subjected to military court.
Bobi Wine later praised the protestors for the courage they exhibited in telling the world that Uganda is bleeding. He advised the UN Human Rights committee not to be blinded by AG Kiwanuka’s submissions.
However, AG Kiwanuka rubbished the allegation and explained that in Uganda, all security personnel are personally held responsible for violating human rights and a number of them have been subjected to disciplinary action.
He added that the government has even gone an extra mile to compensate victims of torture.
By Sengooba Alirabaki