Opinion: When a soldier tortures a toddler, then the army can violate anyone…

Residents of Buvuma islands are living under fear after a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier only known as Robert brutally assaulted a 4-year-old boy for allegedly laughing at him while he was mastering how to ride a bicycle. Robert, who is attached to a detach in Nandala forest, Nairambi sub-county allegedly brutally beat a toddler identified as Najib Iguru, claiming that the boy had stoned him near his home. According to the boy’s mother, Aisha Namugaya, after the battering, the boy lost his body balance, his right leg started swelling while also struggling to breath” (URN – ‘Soldier tortures boy for mocking him, holds Buvuma village at gunpoint’ The Observer Uganda, 01.05.2022).

As long as I can remember and at every given moment, the President, His Excellency, Yoweri Kaguta Musveni has told the wonders of how disciplined his army is. He has spoken about the greatness and how he achieved peace. The President has spoken about how he came with fundamental change and how he revolutionized the Republic. However, things are not how it seems…

To the contrary, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and various agencies connected is as vicious, brutal and lacks order like the predecessors. The acts of torture and extra judicial killings is still rampant. The kidnappings and keeping civilians incommunicado persists. The acts of injustice and impunity is never far from sight. There more stories about these vicious acts than what we know. As either people are not allowed to tell, people are bruised or scared for life and many who fears to speak.

We have heard the stories of activists, political candidates and bystanders to campaigns. Now it is happening to kids or toddlers who is not fully grown. Neither should there be any sort of reaction to an action of a toddler. If the soldier felt mocked and hurt by the act of toddler. He should have spoken to the mother and the parents should have punished the toddler they saw fit. The soldier shouldn’t act as the judge, the jury and the executioner. The soldier did take it further and held the whole village at gun-point. Striking fear and avenging everyone know the toddler. That shows what sort of power and what the soldiers believes they are able to do.

The ones defending it… should think that this could be their own cousin or family member. This could happen to any villager or toddler across the Republic. The innocent civilian who isn’t eligible or able to be punished by law was still touched and violated by a soldier. The soldier took the law upon himself and tortured a toddler. Just writing these lines disgust me. The thought of a child being used blunt force against. No matter what he said or did, his reasoning and mental capacity to understand isn’t there. That’s why a toddler isn’t a legal subject, but the parent would be. Therefore, the soldier just shows how he was a brute and indisciplined.

We can just wonder else the soldiers are up too. They are allowed and follows orders of destruction, contempt of law and can act with vicious operations like the ones in Karamoja sub-region. That’s why we know their violence and know they can cause massacres with their bare hands. They can kill and without consideration of the justice or righteous reason to use the firearm. However, they do and the regime applauds it.

That’s why the incident of torturing a toddler isn’t directly shocking, but shows how far the army is willing to go. There is no decency or courtesy even. Just a brutal transgression and act with violence. Doesn’t matter if it is a civilian, toddler or anyone of stature really. As a soldier it is within your rights to destroy and violate someone. That is the message of the story.

The soldier should secure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic. Meaning defending the borders from invaders. Not being a tool of oppression and injustice. However, the latter is what the UPDF is known for and it shows. Peace.

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