‘ They left the mosque looking like a dump:’ Court denounces security raids on places of worship

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Following the brutal murder of Maj. Mohammed Kiggundu in November 2016, Ugandan security forces embarked on what can now be described as a ‘fishing expedition’ in search of evidence linking to his killers.

This is after the High Court on Monday found that a midnight security raid conducted on a Nakasero mosque – apparently upon a tip off by one suspect held in connection to the killing, was done without a search warrant and records detailing, among other requirements by law, reasons for the raid and specific items the security forces intended to obtain in the raid and therefore illegal, unlawful and a violation of the muslim community’s privacy.

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” The police officers were conducting a search on premises and the law enjoins them either to have a search warrant or a warrant card in such form as shall be prescribed by the Inspector General [ of police]. The respondent ( Government) did not present either of these documents to prove the legality of the search that was carried out by Police. In absence of any evidence to the contrary, the said search was carried out without the search warrant and warrant card. It was thus illegal and unlawful ” the Court said.

 

In the December 2016 case brought against the Government of Uganda by two leaders at the mosque – Mr Kifampa Siraje and Mr Yusuf Musa Musuda, then spokesperson and Subuhi Imam respectively, Justice Musa Ssekaana also lambasted the security forces over their desecration of the place of worship during the illegal search, reinforcing the sanctity of religious places and the importance Ugandan believers attach to them which security agents must respect at all times.

Ugandan security operatives have been notorious for attacking and ransacking mosques, raiding muslim schools (Madrasa) among other islamic installations apparently under the cloak of investigating crime.


Nakasero mosque ransacked

One of the offices at the Nakasero mosque that were ransacked during the 2016 raid.


Agreeing with leading Human Rights lawyer Mr Isaac Ssemakadde who represented the two muslim leaders in the case, the learned Judge found that the security agents left the mosque ” looking like a dump”  and ” had no regard for the sanctity of the Holy Quran, the place of worship, artifacts, books, and other documents sacred to the JDA Muslim community of Nakasero Mosque”

” The failure to have or secure a search warrant or warrant card could have aggravated the situation since there were no guidelines on how the search was to be conducted ” the Judge noted.

” The police raided the mosque as if they were raiding a market place which is a clear violation of the freedom to worship and the right to practice the Islamic faith teachings ” He continued.


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Justice Musa Ssekaana cautioned security forces against this ‘recklessness’ noting that acts that undermine the holiness of places of worship could have a spiral effect on the entire country.

” Places of worship should be searched in a manner that preserves the dignity and sanctity of the place and above all in an orderly and organised manner. The violation at the places of worship affects the entire community and persons who profess and practice that religion. This could have far reaching effects on the entire country due to recklessness of persons who are carrying out the search ” He said.

As compensation for this violation of freedom to religion, Court ordered for the payment of 50m to the Nakasero mosque administration ( Jamiyyat Daawa Assalafiyyah muslim community). The Court also awarded costs of the Application to the two Applicant muslim leaders.


 

 

 

 

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Benjamin M. Ahikiiriza is the founder of thelegalreports.com. He is also its Chief Editor and writes about legal news.

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