FEBRUARY 2, 2010: Judiciary to Probe Ritual Murders

Judicial Commission to Probe Ritual Murders
SOURCE: New Vision
By Henry Mukasa and Catherine Bekunda

Kampala — THE Government has set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the increasing number of suspected ritual murder cases.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja, informed Parliament yesterday that the commission would be headed by retired Supreme Court judge Joseph Mulenga.

The announcement came after MPs complained about daily media reports of mysterious murders involving cutting of limbs.

The Police said in a report recently that the number of people killed in cases of human sacrifice increased to 29 in 2009, from three in 2007.

In addition, 123 people were missing by the end of 2009; most of them are suspected to have become victims of human sacrifice. The majority are children.

Speaking at Parliament yesterday, MP Mathias Kasamba (NRM) said the brutality and rate at which children are sacrificed is sickening.

"As people's representatives, we cannot just sit and watch. We request the Government to tell Parliament what measures they have to reduce these deaths," said Kasamba, the chairperson of the parliamentary defence and internal affairs committee.

The Kakuuto MP also pointed out that the House had passed a Bill on the prevention of child sacrifice. The Bill is awaiting assent by the President so that the Ministry of Internal Affairs can access funds and stop the killings.

In response, Speaker Edward Ssekandi demanded to know what had become of the parliamentary directive to set up an inquiry into child sacrifice. "This issue is increasing. It is too much," Ssekandi said.

Kivejinja said he shared the MPs' concerns. He announced that the Mulenga commission would soon start work and its report will be presented to Parliament.

On the road carnage, Kivejinja observed that the Cabinet was equally concerned but that the role of his ministry was limited to apprehending law breakers.

Lule Mawiya (NRM) said Parliament had enacted laws to protect people's lives but unnecessary deaths continued to occur due to indiscipline and poor implementation.

Okello Okello (UPC) wondered whether the Minister of Internal Affairs would consider resignation over failure to protect the public. "It's as if we have no government. What is happening is sad," Okello said. He caused laughter when he suggested that roads have now become such death traps that life in space is safer. Christine Bako (FDC) said the deaths were a shame to the Government at a time when a lot of resources had been directed to security.

"It takes not less than sh10m to educate a child up to university but before you realise the dreams of your child, you are told she is killed and thrown in a septic tank," she said.

Reagan Okumu (FDC) protested the high number of private security firms. He demanded to know why some have automatic rifles while others don't.

Internal affairs state minister Mathias Kasaija said the ministry was considering withdrawing guns from private security firms so that they are restricted to using batons, like in other countries. Thirty-five private security firms are registered in Uganda.