, 13 November, 2019 / 12:53 AM
Days after security forces in Uganda used force to disperse protesting Makerere University students over the decision to increase fees, Catholic Bishops in the East African country of Uganda have decried excessive use of force by the police against demonstrating students and termed the act “brutal,'' “excessive” and ”abuse of power.”
“We the Catholic Bishops Conference of Uganda ... would like to express our concern on the manner in which some security agents have handled some recent demonstrations in the country,” reads part of a statement issued at the end of the Bishops’ November 4-8 Plenary Assembly in Kampala.
“We strongly believe that the level of brutality exercised and the amount of force used by some security agents while arresting the demonstrating students of Makerere University, journalists and opposition political groups, was uncalled for and violates human dignity,” the Bishops stated.
In their statement signed by the Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, the Bishops quote Article 25 and 44(a) of the Ugandan constitution, which mandates all people to respect human dignity.
The Catholic leaders have reminded the security agencies that the same constitutional provisions guarantees every citizen of the country “the right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment by prohibiting any forms of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
While appreciating politicians and government authorities for condemning the violence, the Prelates reminded all that peace cannot be found through violence.
“As shepherds of God’s people, we would like to remind everybody that violence is never a solution to solving differences,” the Bishops have stated and added, “It will help us to make our country a family where everybody can live in peace and harmony.”
Instead of excessive use of force, the Bishops called on the government to “promote dialogue and to always listen to the grievances of its citizens.”
“We also appeal to various individuals, communities and institutions in our country to respect the rule of law and endeavour to seek peaceful ways of resolving conflicts,” the Prelates urged.
“We continue to pray for our country and its entire people to live in peace and harmony,” the Bishops in Uganda concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa