On Friday June 3, 2016, CBS radio and other media houses reported that police spokesman Fred Enanga had told the press that preliminary conclusions from their investigations of the break-in and murder of a security guard at the offices of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) indicated that the break-in was ‘masterminded’ by HRAPF management.
Whereas there is a possibility that HRAPF management and staff were part of the group that masterminded the break-in and murder, I take exception to the reasons given for this conclusion and ask the police to back up the allegations with genuine evidence. They should go ahead and point out the specific persons among HRAPF management who orchestrated the murder and robbery and prosecute them.
The reason given for the preliminary conclusion was that HRAPF management had refused to share the CCTV footage of the break-in and murder with police. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The security company, G4S, informed HRAPF that they alerted the Uganda Police Force of the break-in and murder that very morning even before alerting HRAPF management. The police reportedly came to the scene shortly thereafter and, without securing the crime scene, went away. They only came back after about two hours after I personally called senior officials in police.
The police collected samples of blood that was found at the scene, fingerprints of the suspects and when informed by HRAPF management that there was CCTV footage, one officer viewed the relevant parts and took a screenshot photo with his camera. I personally asked them to take the footage or secure it but they seemed uninterested.
It was at this point that HRAPF decided to share parts of the footage with the mainstream media and on social media in order to have members of the public identify the culprits. The police followed this example and posted the pictures on their official Twitter handle.
After two days, a police officer came for the footage and he was given access to the same footage that was shared with the media. HRAPF later went to the police station and an investigating officer said he wanted still photos from the footage printed. This was done and these were also delivered.
It was, therefore, shocking to hear that the police were alleging that the CCTV footage had not been shared with them and that this was the basis for imputing responsibility on HRAPF management.
Even if the CCTV footage had not been shared with the police, this cannot be the basis for a conclusion that HRAPF management was implicated in the robbery and murder. This is because the faces of the suspects who carried out the robbery and murder are clearly shown in pictures and videos that were widely circulated, and the police have blood samples and fingerprints of at least one of the suspects.
More so, the police can always demand footage and even get a court order to force HRAPF to hand it over. To date, the police have not taken statements from any member of HRAPF’s management or staff except for the executive director, neither have they taken blood samples, photographs or fingerprints to see if they match with what they found at the scene. This is despite HRAPF imploring them to do so.
Immediately after Enanga’s statement was aired on radio, HRAPF management went to Old Kampala police station and met the investigating officer and the officer in charge of investigations and asked them about the statement and the conclusion. They were informed that no such conclusion had been reached and that they were still investigating.
Therefore, this implies that the police spokesman had not consulted the investigating officer before making the unfortunate statement. If these allegations are, indeed, true, let the police put the culprits to book.
This is not the first time such statements have been made by the police spokesman when NGO offices have been broken into. It now seems to be the standard response. Whether this is arrived at after proper and thorough investigations is still a mystery because police have never produced any reasonable basis for these statements and has never prosecuted NGO staff for such break-ins.
In the meantime, more organisations continue to suffer attacks, and more lives are likely to be lost!
The police should comprehensively investigate this case, which has all the evidence necessary to find who the perpetrators were. The family of the murdered guard, his employers and HRAPF whose staff are currently in fear because of the unexplained motive of the break-in and murder; all demand justice.
The author is a human rights lawyer and the executive director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum.