BY ROBERT ATIKU

MARACHA : The Uganda Human Rights Commission(UHRC) is carrying out sensitization programmes in Maracha district on human rights.

The fight against mob action is one of the key issues being discussed in the awareness campaigns.

While facilitating in a community baraza meeting in Tara subcounty headquarters on Monday, Mr. Bosco Okurut a legal officer working with UHRC based in Arua Regional Office said they picked interest in mob action as one of the emerging issues in Maracha district.

Mr. Okurut Bosco (left) of UHRC and Mr. Micheal Okot Maracha Police Community Liaison Officer talk to residents of Tara subcounty on Monday. PHOTO BY ROBERT ATIKU

“Mob justice is unlawful. There are laid down legal procedures to follow incase you suspect a person has committed an offence or is about commit an offence. When follow those steps, then you don’t go against the law. If you take the law into your own hands by lynching this person, by burning the person or by chasing the person away from their own community, then you are going against the law and it will come for you.” Mr. Okurut said.

However Mr. Micheal Okot, Maracha Central Police Community Liaison Officer said Maracha is one of the districts leading in mob justice in West Nile.

Mr. Micheal Okot Maracha Police Community Liaison Officer talk to residents of Tara subcounty on Monday. PHOTO BY ROBERT ATIKU

“Many people have been evicted, many have lost their lives and others are no where to be seen. They suspect that this person has been killed by the other one. They converge, kill and disorganize. It is unacceptable. Once there is a complaint, police is there as an institution to handle such matters. Police will investigate these issues. Why do you take law into your hands? What capacity do you have in investigating these matters? You are the judge, you are the arresting officer, you are the prosecutor, you are the hangman, you are everything.” Okot said.

However, Mr. Aquilino Obega the acting subcounty chief of Tara subcounty blames the relatives of those who are attacked and killed for initiating mob actions.

“This matter of mob justice, I am blaming relatives of those who are killed. And most times it’s also these relatives who initiate mob justice. They have constituted certain courts called village courts which are chaired by some misguided elders. Those are illegal institutions. They should instead follow the legal procedures. You have your Lc’s. You can even go to the church or elders who know things better than you. And they can do Counselling. ” Mr. Obega commented.

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Mr. Lawrence Atiku the Parish Chief of Ojapi Parish in Tara subcounty said, “The information which we have got from Uganda Human Rights Commission has in fact opened our ears. People have learnt that they have been taking wrong procedures in handling such issues. We have learnt that mob justice is actually illegal. So elders, government officials like police should be involved in handling such issues.”

A woman raises a question to Uganda Human Rights Commission officials at the Baraza meeting in Tara subcounty headquarters on Monday.

Ms. Harriet Driciru a resident of Tara subcounty said, “This awareness meeting by UHRC is very vital to me as a lady. Atleast through their (UHRC) speech, I have picked something that will help me as an individual. I have got to know my rights and I have got to know what my community is supposed to do regarding human rights.”

Similar Baraza meetings are expected to take in other selected subcounties in Maracha district.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission was established to protect and promote human rights in Uganda. End