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Human rights experts and organizations have said that the move to pardon the former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura is premature and would set a bad precedent.
Gen Kayihura was sacked in April 2018, by President Museveni after serving the force for 13 years. At the time of his dismissal, the country was witnessing a heightened wave of murders and kidnaps and an increase in urban crime.
He was later arraigned before the general court-martial and charged with failing to protect war material by issuing arms to unauthorized persons including Bodaboda 2010 members led by Abdallah Kitatta. The crimes were allegedly committed between 2010 and 2018. He is also accused of failing to supervise police officers, as well as aiding and abetting the kidnap and repatriation of Rwandan exiles and refugees and Ugandan citizens to Rwanda between 2012 and 2016.
But NRM leaders in Kisoro recently requested president Museveni to Pardon Kayihura in recognition of his relentless service to the country. Kayihura hails from Kisoro district. In response to the request, President Museveni said he would speak to the military prosecution about the matter even though, he had earlier affirmed that the police under Gen Kayihura had been infiltrated by criminals.
Livingstone Ssewanyana, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) says that such a pardon will come with mainly negative consequences, saying that it may signal that even the worst can be redeemed. He says however that where necessary, it is important to promote and ensure accountability, and to seek assurances that there will be no repeat of the same, after the pardon, yet still it is unfair to say that he cannot be pardoned.
Agnes Taaka Wejuli, the Vice-Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee in Parliament said that although the pardon is good for reconciliation and promoting peace, the aspect of the victims and the people with complaints against Kayihura should be considered.
Peter Magelah Gwayaka, a human Rights Lawyer from Chapter Four Uganda, says that the President needs to let the court processes go on uninterrupted because Kayihura could be innocent, and therefore, would need no pardon. He says that what is happening now is undermining the justice system.
“Those powers work when someone is convicted. What if Kayihura is not guilty, what is there to pardon?” he said.
Eron Kiiza, a human rights lawyer says that any action on a trial that is already ongoing shows that people will always get away with human rights violations. He says that President Museveni is only trying to get more votes from Kisoro district.