Members of the Opposition in Parliament on Thursday stormed out of a plenary session to express dissatisfaction over sustained reports of human rights violations meted out against citizens by security agencies.
The MPs steered by their Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, said they cannot continue engaging a Government aloof to the plight of its citizens and maintain that several of the torture and detention without trial victims are being persecuted for their political inclinations.
During the sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker Anita Among, Mpuuga first raised a matter of national importance over the continued abuse of human rights by Government before commanding the storm out.
“On several occasions, colleagues on the Opposition and I have brought to the attention of this House and the Country matters pertaining to the disappearance of citizens, detention without trial including Members here, (Makindye West MP, Allan Ssewanyana and Kawempe North MP Mohammed Ssegirinya), extrajudicial killings by the state apparatus, including the latest version of all manner of torture,” said Mpuuga.
Mpuuga appealed to Among to suspend the sitting until the Government provides accountability for missing citizens, detention without trial including their Members and torture.
He said that the Government was taking Parliament and citizens for granted by taking long to respond to the issues presented before Parliament.
Among attempted appealing to the Opposition MPs to allow the Government time to present a comprehensive statement on the matter on February 8, 2022 next week but her efforts were in vain.
“There was an issue that was raised in this House about torture, the people who are being tortured, and the missing people. The list was laid on the table and we need an explanation from the Attorney General on the whereabouts of the missing people and what the Government is doing to have these people released. We gave you two weeks and the two weeks end on Tuesday,” said Among.
Among then advised Mpuuga to prepare a motion over the matter for the House to debate and make the necessary resolutions. She added that this option would have more impact on the concerns raised by the MPs as opposed to protesting out of Parliament.
Mpuuga said the leadership in opposition is not going to be part of the face of torture. He added that they would abscond from Parliament sittings for the next two weeks before they present a statement on their concerns.
This is the second time the Opposition MPs storm out of Parliament to express their displeasure with the conduct and actions of Govt.
On September 28, 2021, the Opposition walked out of the plenary session in protest as a debate on the arrest and continued detention of their two colleagues Ssewanyana Ssegirinya was ongoing but with little feasible solutions.
Ssewanyana was arrested on September 23, 2021, as he walked out of Kigo Prison after he was granted bail on charges of murder, attempted murder and aiding and abetting terrorism. Ssegirinya was also arrested in the same manner yesterday as he left Kigo Prison after he was granted bail.
Busia Municipality MP, Geoffrey Macho expressed displeasure by Opposition to storm out of the August House. He noted that the move was not necessary as Parliament is a temple where issues should be discussed. He wondered how issues will be resolved with walkouts.
Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany emphasized the need for Members to dialogue as opposed to protesting. He said that critical matters are handled and decided in Parliament and not outside Parliament.
Among observed that adjourning the plenary sitting was never an option for after the Opposition MPs stormed out of Parliament. She said that she had tried to offer the opposition a solution but in vain.
The Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa posted on social media that, “whereas it is a right of our colleagues to walk out of a parliamentary session, I feel there was still room for engagement. They’ve walked out on us but we won’t walk out on them. We shall look into their issues & respond accordingly.”
After walking out of the Chamber, the Opposition MPs moved straight and sat at the entrance Parliament building stairway. The MPs sang in protest, demanding the immediate release of all their supporters who were arrested before, during and after the 2021 general elections campaign and torture of citizens by security operatives, and detention without trial.