The Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers under the marine unit have been accused of levying illegal taxes on the fishing communities.
Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, said during a media briefing held in Kalungu on Monday, July 24, 2023, that while touring the area, he was confronted by several groups of fishermen accusing the UPDF soldiers of extortion.
According to Mpuuga, the soldiers manning illegal fishing are said to be collecting “boat tax,” which he said isn’t prescribed by the law.
“The UPDF soldiers are on the lake fishing; the word illegal fishing has vanished. For them, illegality and legality are one and the same. There are no illegal fishing gears for the UPDF; there is no illegal boat for their allies, but the commoners are the ones suffering now,” said Mpuuga.
He further said that people are being arrested and subsequently extorted by the army.
“In one of the episodes, members of parliament were forced to match into the UPDF detach to rescue four young men, including a 14-year-old boy and a mother with her baby, who had been arrested and detained in the same small room with men, women, and children,” said Mpuuga.
He urged parliament to investigate the violation of human rights by the UPDF in the fishing communities, where murders are taking place.
The UPDF has previously denied the allegation of torture and extortion by the marine soldiers conducting enforcement against illegal fishing.