Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Joe Sherlock


14 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the representations he has made to the Ugandan authorities regarding the need for a full inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied) on 21 March 2002; the response he has received from the Ugandan authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14830/02]

The circumstances of the case, as the Deputy may be aware, are that an Irish missionary, Father Declan O'Toole and two Ugandan citizens, Patrick Longoli and Fidele Longole, his driver and cook, were shot and killed on 21 March in Karamoja in northeast Uganda. The following day two Ugandan soldiers were arrested and charged. They were tried by field court martial, found guilty of the murders and executed by firing squad the same day.

The Government conveyed to the Ugandan Government at the highest level the degree of concern occasioned in Ireland both by the circumstances in which Father O'Toole and his companions died and by the nature of the judicial process which was applied to those arrested, tried and executed in connection with these deaths. We emphasised the need for the full facts of the case to be clearly established.

In response to these representations, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, gave an assurance that an inquiry would be carried out to determine whether there might have been any cover-up by the Ugandan defence forces. The Secretary General of my Department availed of a visit to Uganda a month ago to emphasise to the President and to the relevant Ministers our hopes that this inquiry would begin without delay, that it would be conducted in a transparent fashion and would help to bring closure to this tragic case.

This week, our representative in Kampala was assured by the Ugandan Foreign Minister that the inquiry is in the process of being set up. We will maintain close contact with the Ugandan authorities in this regard. The deaths of Father O'Toole and his two companions have caused widespread shock and unease and it is important that the full facts of the case are disclosed clearly and speedily.