APRIL 26, 2010: 6 People Killed in Kotido, Says UHRC

6 People Killed in Kotido, Says UHRC
SOURCE: New Vision
By Andante Okanya
Kampala — PRELIMINARY investigations by the Uganda Human Rights Commission show that six people and not 59 were killed in Kotido district in January as reported.

Medi Kaggwa, the chairperson of the rights body, dismissed allegations that the army was responsible for the killings.

He explained that the killings followed an exchange of gunfire between the UPDF and Jie warriors during a disarmament exercise.

He added that the ongoing investigations also indicated that five people, including a soldier, were injured during the fire exchange.

Speaking at the commission's monthly press briefing at the head office in Kampala on Friday, Kaggwa said they had partnered with the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"The commission wants to establish the facts in order to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions and recommend compensation to the victims," Kaggwa said.

The commission has recorded statements from 45 witnesses and victims from the three sub-counties of Rengen, Kotido and Nakapelimoru.

Kaggwa said the team will soon visit the sub-counties of Kacheri and Panyagara.

The chairperson noted that the team of investigators met the 3rd Division commander, Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, who informed them that the shooting was sparked off by the armed warriors.

Kankiriho said the warriors had earlier raided Kaabong district and stolen an unspecified number of animals.

He also informed the investigating team that during a gunfire exchange in December last year, only a soldier and a civilian were killed.

The commission secretary, Gordon Mwesigye, rapped unscrupulous non-governmental organisations for peddling reports that 59 people died.

Mwesigye said the NGOs were using this as publicity stunt to justify the exorbitant amounts of money they get from donors.

The commission commended the disarmament exercise, but asked the army to show restraint by using reasonable force in pursuit of the restoration of law.

Kaggwa lamented the inaccessibility of the scenes of the alleged bombings due to remoteness, saying it has slowed down their investigations.

The rights body urged the local leaders and prominent politicians from the region to sensitisatise the residents about the dangers of cattle raids and the need to respect laws.