Uganda Peoples Congress

Uganda Peoples Congress
National Secretariat
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala

Hold Public Inquest into Budo Tragedy

Press Release

(Embargoed for release at 11.00am, 16th April, 2008)

  1. Yesterday, Ugandans woke up to receive the very sad news of the inferno which occurred at Budo Junior School on Monday night. In that tragedy nineteen pupils and two unknown adults were charred to painful death. The Uganda Peoples Congress joins the rest of Uganda to mourn the untimely death of those who perished in this tragedy.UPC sends its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
  2. The tragedy at Budo Junior School is not an isolated one. In the past decade, there have been numerous fires at School, some f which have claimed lives. Several buildings have also collapsed and claimed lives. In all these tragedies the NRM government was quick to promise thorough inquiry leading to prosecution of the culprits. However no serious inquiry or prosecution has been carried out.
  3. The recent tragedy at Budo Junior School reminds Ugandans of the tragedies at Kichwamba Technical Institute and Kanungu Massacre. In both of these tragedies, no public investigations were carried out. A Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Kania to investigate the Kanungu massacre never sat and never produced any report. Their appointments remained on paper. The UPC wonders why this Commission was not facilitated to do its work. In the case of Kichwamba the government alleged the tragedy was an act of arson committed by rebels of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).However no Public inquiry was held and no single ADF rebel has ever been charged or convicted of this massacre.
  4. The NRM government has in its two decades in power avoided using the Inquest Act(Chapter 11 of the Laws of Uganda).Under this law it is mandatory for a coroner to hold a public inquest "Whenever he/she is credibly informed that a person has died and there is reasonable cause to suspect that the person died of violent or unnatural death or that the person has died in prison or in police custody or while confined in a lockup or mental home"(section 4)A coroner is defined in the law to be a magistrate appointed under the Magistrate Act or any other fit person appointed by a notice in the gazette by a minister(section 2)
  5. The purpose of an inquest is to investigate the cause of death especially to find out who was responsible for the violent, culpable or negligent conduct that occasioned such death. Normally after such investigations, criminal proceedings follow and administrative and legal measures are taken to ensure that there is no repeat of such violent, culpable and violent conduct.
  6. In the case of the Budo tragedy, it is necessary to exhaustively inquire into a number of things. These include:-
  7. Whether there were any regulations prohibiting pupils from carrying into school and dormitories, articles and appliances that constitute fire hazards.
  8. If there were such regulations in the school whether there were administrative measures in place to ensure compliance.
  9. Whether the dormitory structure was fit and habitable place of abode for the large numbers of students that it contained.
  10. Whether there was any routine safety inspection of these dormitories by the school authorities and ministry of Education Inspectors, building inspectors and fire inspectors. If there were no inspection who were responsible for the failure.
  11. Whether there was effective supervision by the school authority
  12. Whether there were any effective security arrangements in the school to stop outsiders including arsonists from accessing the school.
  13. Whether there were administrative, economic or social wrangles surrounding the school administration.
  14. Whether the response of the school authorities and the police to the tragedy was timely and effective.
  15. Uganda Peoples Congress is of the view that the NRM government with its poor record of investigating past incidents of tragedies and massacres is incapable of mounting a thorough and impartial investigations into this latest tragedy.
  16. The UPC demands that the responsible minister for the Inquest Act should immediately appoint a judge or person qualified to be appointed a judge to hold an independent inquest into all the circumstances surrounding this inferno. This is the only credible forum which will enable the surviving pupils, parents, teachers, public officials and the general public to give evidence on oath and in an open inquest on what really has been happening in Budo Junior School and what exactly happened on Monday night. The parent of the deceased pupils and indeed the whole country deserves no less than such a public inquest.
  17. Once again the Uganda Peoples Congress expresses its condolences to the bereaved families.

For God and my Country

Mama Miria Kalule Obote

Party President