As leadership of Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) is finalizing with the recruitment of more 10000 Local Defense Units- LDUs, security analysts have warned Ugandans to expect worst in regard to human rights violations.
Security experts such as Grace Matsiko and Fred Egesa say with how LDUs have subjected Ugandans to all sorts of brutality in a bid to enforce guidelines intended to control the spread of Covid19, their impunity and disrespect of human rights is likely to increase with the surge in their numbers.
Ever since Covid19 was declared in Uganda, LDUs have been top on the list of security agencies that have subjected Ugandans to inhumane treatment that include beating people at their homes in the guise of enforcing measures intended to curtail the spread of Covid19.
It is on that basis that Egesa thinks UPDF leadership should have focused on addressing matters making LDUs to unleash brutality against civilians. Without tackling issues perhaps frustrating LDUs and forcing them to exhibit anger on locals, Egesa believes incidents of human rights violations will sprout indefinitely.
Egesa warns that recruiting more LDUs and equipping them with guns yet some of them have expressed concerns over underpayments, president Yoweri Museveni risks plunging the country into anarchy. Egesa argues that Museveni needs to be advised that Uganda needs to focus on technology led security systems as opposed to causing surge of killer weapons in the public.
“The president has been misled by some self-seekers on many occasions. In fact, we should reduce on gun circulation among the population and develop better civilian intelligence. It is better for experts to come and advise him on the issue of adding guns to guns in a population like Uganda. The repercussion of more guns and more guns and besides keeping these boys underpaid, they will antagonize the public, we need the best way to balance this out,” Egesa said.
Nevertheless, UPDF deputy Spokesperson, Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu, says during recruitment, they ensured applicants have good conduct. They crosschecked to find out whether people who were seeking to join the forces were not previously criminals. “We went through these application in order to produce a shortlist. We finally got the best and names were submitted to districts headquarters,” Kakurungu says.
Grace Matsiko, another security analyst, says government must ensure that the existing LDUs are disbanded formerly before the ones being recruiting complete their training. Such a decision, according to Matsiko, would create a different picture in the public that has witnessed the worst of their conduct mostly during this Covid19 period.
But if the government decides to add 10000 LDUs to the one already serving with a tinted image, Matsiko says Uganda will look like a police state something that would increase incidents of civilian mistreatment, brutality and torture.
“There must be a clear cut identity between the LDUs we have and those who are being recruited. The haphazard recruitment of these LDUs as we have witnessed are making Uganda look like a police state or a country is gambling on security. Before we set off the ones serving, we don’t need new ones,” Matsiko reasons.
LDUs dominated incidents of brutality unleashed to Ugandans during the first Covid19 lockdown. In fact, before Uganda registered any Covid19 fatality, security forces majorly LDUs had shot or beaten to death 13 people.
Security brutality last month forced president, Yoweri Museveni, to address the country condemning the heinous human rights violations of security agencies. Museveni showed videos of police officers clobbering people on streets of Kampala in the guise of enforcing Covid19 orders.
Like Egesa, Matsiko believes Uganda needs to put emphasis on installing technology as opposed to having very many numbers of security human beings. The duo argue that human beings are extremely expensive because they need a salary, accommodation, medical care and feeding yet technology is a one buy off.
“Security management is now shifting from human beings to technology. Technology is cheaper than hiring a human. Apart from catering for human beings, you have to own their mistakes which is not the case with technology. We should install technology,” Matsiko said.
Museveni ordered for recruitment of LDUs in 2018 after the rampant killings of both prominent and ordinary people. UPDF under Museveni’s directive first recruited over 6000 LDUs who were deployed in greater Kampala. Less than six months later, more 12000 LDUs were recruited and were deployed in upcountry areas.