Ugandan police blame victims in LGBT-allied NGO break-in

Suspects in the attack

Suspects in the attack

Uganda’s police appear to have done little to investigate a break-in and murder at an LGBT-supporting human rights group’s offices and instead suggested that it was an inside job.

Last month we reported that the offices of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) were broken into in the early hours of the morning of 22 May.

The organisation was one the groups that successfully challenged Uganda’s dreaded anti-homosexuality law in court, leading to its annulment.

During the break-in, a security guard was beaten to death and documents were stolen. At least two men were caught on security camera.

Now, according to Adrian Jjuuko, Executive Director of HRAPF, police have claimed that the break-in was “masterminded” by the organisation’s management.

In a statement, Jjuuko said that the reason given for the conclusion was that HRAPF management had refused to share the CCTV footage of the break-in and murder with police.

Jjuuko, however, revealed that the organisation did everything it could to supply the police with the footage, in addition to blood samples and fingerprints that were taken at the scene of the crime.

“I personally asked them to take the footage or secure it but they seemed uninterested,” he said in a statement.

At that point, HRAPF shared parts of the footage and pictures with the media and on social media “in order to have members of the public identify the culprits”.

Jjuuko noted that the police also posted these pictures on their official Twitter handle. Two days later, 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,” said Jjuuko.

He added: “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.”

Jjuuko told Erasing 76 Crimes that while he could not absolutely rule out involvement of individual staff members, which number around 30, police have the information needed to verify this claim.

“They have fingerprints, access to phone records if they wanted to, CCTV footage, blood samples etc. Let them match these with staff records,” he said.

The attack was one of a series of recent incidents in which NGO offices are broken into and not much is taken, leading some to believe that they are intended to intimidate the organisations.

The NGO Forum has reported that between 2013 and 2014, at least 26 NGO offices were broken into in Uganda. In a joint statement after the break-in, 10 Ugandan civil society groups condemned the suspicious attacks.

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