Sheila Namirembe (Uganda, AC 09-11)
The 11th of July may have been to Spain a great historical moment as they were on the way to victory. This was no ordinary day in the life of a Ugandan either. The first world cup on African soil was coming to an end. People gathered to celebrate this “time for Africa,” little did they know what Al-shabab, the Somali terrorist group had in store for them.
Uganda had been warned by the Al-Shabab that she would face attacks if she continued her retaliation. This meant that Uganda had to withdraw her peace keeping troupes from Somalia. The Ugandan government however did not withdraw its troupes as it believes that more than ever Somalia needs its hand to find this group linked to the Al-Qaeda. On the night of the world cup final, one bomb went off at Kyadondo rugby club which had a large crowd of people. Another bomb went off at an Ethiopian restaurant within a short time after the first one. 74 Ugandans lost their lives in the most brutal way the country has had to witness since the last civil war 23 years ago. An Irish lady and an American gentleman fell prey to the attacks too and were unable to sustain the injuries.
Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, said he was happy with the attacks in Uganda.
“Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,” Issa said.
This was the first major terrorist attack the al-Shabab had staged outside Somalia.The Ugandan military and police force was deployed thereafter at most border points. The Kenyan and American government showed immense support for the Pearl of Africa. Some suspects were caught crossing the Uganda –Kenya border and handed over to the Ugandan authorities. So far more than 20 culprits are held connection with the 11/7 attacks. These include Kenyans, Ugandans and Somalis who work for Al-Qaeda. Some of the suspects have pleaded guilty while some still plead innocent.
No person in their right mind could possibly support terrorism. Even so — it is important that applicable laws (and Constitutional provisions) are respected to the last comma — including the fundamental presumption that all suspects must be considered NOT GUILTY UNTIL SO PROVEN IN A PROPERLY CONSTITUTED COURT OF LAW.
One must therefore give credit to the Uganda magistrate who refused to take pleas (from the Kampala bombing suspects) based on the Constitutional limitations of some foreign courts. Justice is irrevocably compromised when law enforcement agencies conduct themselves like a kangaroo court.
We all want justice for the heinous crimes — but GOD forbid that this noble quest transform our citizens (and governments) into common lynch mobs.
The not guilty presumption applies to all human beings irrespective of our suspicions or fears. We enforce this presumption (even for criminals who are caught red-handed) in order to firmly shut the door against institutionalised abuse (which affects everybody). Let true Justice prevail over this case.
May the souls of the dear departed rest in peace.
For God and my Country.
-United World Colleges Student Magazine-