Turkana leaders protest shooting, jailing of 32 pastoralists by Uganda court

A team of paramedics attend to victims who were shot by the Ugandan Military. [Bakari Ang'ela, Standard]

Xinhua's article indicates the 32 were convicted on two counts, illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of ammunition, each carrying a sentence of 10 years. The convicts will serve their sentences consecutively.

According to Ugandan military law, any person found in possession of military weapons, equipment on ammunition is subjected to and tried by the court martial.

Northeastern Uganda is facing armed cattle rustling. The Ugandan military has currently been carrying out a disarmament operation to stem the practice.

But the leaders said such acts of humiliation against the Kenyan pastoralists are an affront to the efforts of East Africa integration.

The Deputy Goverrnor said those who had been shot and injured include six minors who are undergoing treatment at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital.

Their 48-year-old mother was among the victims of the shooting in Moroto.

"More than 40,000 Kenyan pastoralists have lived in Uganda their entire lifetime and have dual citizenship. It is disturbing that they have been attacked by Ugandan military and others jailed by court-martial," the Deputy Governor said.

Turkwel MCA and Turkana County Assembly leader of majority Stephen Edukon condemned the jailing and the shooting saying such acts derail East Africa's integration.

"It is sad that the same military that attacked the pastoralists is the same that determined their case and jailed them. Since when did the military prosecute civilian cases?" Edukon said.

The ward rep added, "We are asking President William Ruto to impose sanctions on Uganda until it releases the 32 jailed Kenyans. There have been talks between Uganda and Kenya allowing pastoralists to graze livestock in areas along the common border. It is unfortunate that Uganda is disregarding the peace pacts."

Lokichar MCA Samuel Lomodo Lokaale claimed that only Turkana pastoralists were targetted in the security operation.

The leaders spoke as they received the injured minors and mother at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital.

Dr Anthony Gichuhi, a senior medical officer at the hospital, said the patients were stable.

He said the five minors sustained gunshot injuries on different parts of their bodies.

"We received a call from Moroto region hospital that we needed emergency evacuation of six casualties, and we rushed to bring them to Lodwar," the medic said.