Parliament Urges Gov’t to Explain Fishermen Killings on Lakes

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The speaker of Parliament, Annet Anita Among, has tasked the government with bringing a statement to Parliament explaining why there are continued killings and human rights violations within fishing communities, despite the passing into law of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act 2022.

Speaker Among’s concern comes at the time a Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) officer, Moses Niwagira, was accused of shooting dead Charles Wanya, a fisherman operating on the shores of Lake Kyoga, recently.

The speaker made the remarks during parliament sitting on Friday, May 3, 2024.

During the plenary, the government Chief Whip, Hamson Obua, acknowledged that the manhandling of fishermen by the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) is not an isolated incident.

He further revealed that he received reports about human rights violations in fishing communities by the FPU and asked the Speaker to accord time to Hellen Adoa, Minister of State for Fisheries, to present a statement addressing issues in all fishing communities across the country.

“I have equally seen on social media, including in Amolatar district, where one resident was reportedly shot dead by a member of the Fisheries Protection Unit. May I request that you give the Minister in Charge of Fisheries an opportunity to come and present a comprehensive statement covering all the fishing communities and what is transpiring within the country, generally but also with specific regard to the incidences that we have read and seen in the media?” Obua said.

President Museveni created the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU), a specialised unit established within the UPDF, to enforce the Fisheries Act and combat illegal fishing practices in Uganda. The Fisheries Act is comprehensive legislation that aims to consolidate and reform the law relating to fisheries and fish products.

The Act covers various aspects related to the administration, management, and development of fisheries and aquaculture. It also includes provisions for environmental principles, human rights concerns of fishing communities, and measures to ensure sustainable management of fisheries resources.

However, there have been several cases of FPU shooting fishermen on Lake Victoria and other lakes in Uganda. In 2022, a Kenyan fisherman was shot dead and a Ugandan fisherman went missing after a shooting incident, although reports say it was in self-defence.

Another incident reported in 2018 involved an FPU soldier shooting and injuring a fisherman suspected to be involved in immature fish trading at the Bosa landing site in Bufumira Sub County, Kalangala District, as he tried to flee.

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