Women activists condemn the release of UPDF officer who killed his wife and two others

June 23, 2015 1:22 pm

Published by Cedovip

The Domestic Violence Act coalition held a press conference to condemn the unjustifiable release of UPDF soldier Lance corporal Herbert Rwakihembo by the army’s court of appeal.

Rwakihembo was accused of shooting dead 3 people in Luzira after he returned from Somalia including his Irene Namuyaba and two others; Royce Kawendeke, Nnalongo Zaina Nassolo by shooting in a gruesome murder in Luzira a Kampala suburb.
He had been sentenced to 35 years in jail by the division army court that sat in Luzira in January 2013 before the court of appeal over turned the sentence on 13th February, 2015 on grounds that he acted in the heat of passion after provocation. The ruling by the appellant courts to reduce his sentence from 35 years, to 15 years and then 3 years leading to his subsequent release.

The court marshal court of Appeal action of quashing the sentence on grounds that; “the perpetrator acted in the heat of passion and that any reasonable person faced with similar circumstances would have reacted the way he did…” sets a wrong precedent to all citizens in Uganda.
It is Infact a contradiction from the UPDF’s Commander in Chief, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who in his address during the opening of the National Judges Conference in Entebbe on 23rd February,2015 recognized murder as a grave offence that needed stronger deterrent sentences of life imprisonment in order to protect citizens by the justice institutions.

women activists condemn the release of UPDF officer who killed his wife and two othersCiting the prevalence rate of Domestic violence in Uganda the Executive Director of UGANET, Dora Kiconco says; “Nationally, domestic violence remains the highest reported crime since 2013 and leading cause of death and injuries with 3426 DV cases resulting into 360 deaths, 9598 cases of defilement and 35411 for child neglect (Uganda Police annual crime Report).Yet, instead of swift action from police and other law enforcement agencies to enforce existing laws such as the Domestic violence Act, they continue to perpetrate violence against women by making public statements justifying the incidences of violence against women while creating excuses for the perpetrators on grounds of insanity, alcoholism, infidelity and drug abuse. Such statements seem to set a wrong precedent given the rising cases of violence against women and the continued impunity.” Tina Musuya the Executive Director of Center for Domestic Violence Prevention CCEDOVIP) adds;
“It is should also be noted that the gun wields a lot of power. Owing to their mandate to protect citizens, Law enforcement agencies are among the few institutions permitted to possess weapons with strict guidelines and code of usage while dealing with civilians, yet these codes of usage are silent about how the said officers should use the weapons with their intimate partners or while at home. We believe any officer convicted for crimes such as murder and domestic abuse should be held personally responsible. For the law enforcement agency to be considered effective in delivering services, it should disassociate itself from such crimes as murder by condemning and not reinstating the perpetrator into active service.”

FIDA-U advocacy officer Mercy Munduru says that asthe Domestic Violence Act Coalition they demand for justice and calls upon:

  1. UPDF to promote accountability for such acts against citizen by preparing and publishing comprehensive reports detailing their actions against such officers and in this case, demanding a report on the whereabouts of the officer in question and any disciplinary actions the institution has undertaken to ensure such actions are not repeated by other officers.
  2. The army as an institution to update the nation on the steps taken to protect and compensate the families of the survivors of crimes committed by their officers. The three victims were mothers, sisters, daughters and aunties who had enormous responsibilities towards their families.
  3. Head of institutions (Police and the Army) should be accountable to the citizens by clearly stating actions taken to cooperate with prosecution in such cases and publicly share reports on actions taken on such officers who have abused the law.”

Its against this background that the women activists are planning to meet with the army Commander to devise ways in which they can work together to prevent Violence against women, a legal suit to demand for reparations for the victim’s families in the civil courts, Continue raising public awareness on violence against women through community mobilization and the media, Continuous engagement with key stakeholders, justice law and order sector highlighting the need to prioritize implementation of Domestic Violence Act and GBV related laws.

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