Legislators have rejected a report from the House Committee on Education and Sports on the alleged sexual harassment of students by security operatives during the October strike at Makerere University, saying that the investigation was not conclusive.
Committee Chairperson, Jacob Richards Opolot, presented the report during plenary sitting on 11 December 2019.
Parliament asked committee to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse and mismanagement at the university following a statement presented by the Minister of State for Education (Higher Education), John Chrysostom Muyingo, on the students unrest at the institution.
Opolot said that owing to lack of substantial evidence, allegations of sexual assault leveled against security operatives cannot hold.
“Despite efforts by the committee to identify students that were allegedly sexually abused, it was visibly noted that they were not ready to come out in the open,” he said.
Moses Kasibante (Ind., Rubaga Division North) presented a minority report which cited that the environment was not conducive enough for female students to confess that they were sexually assaulted.
“Despite efforts by a few of the students to interface with the committee to disclose the agony and experience of sexual harassment, they expressed discomfort at the environment at Parliament and decided to go back,” said Kasibante.
He added that the Committee did not spare time to specifically inquire and interface with alleged victims of sexual harassment at the campus of Makerere University.
“Parliament should take interest in further investigating the allegations since issues of sexual harassment cannot be concluded in a short time,” he said.
Joy Atim Ongom (UPC, Lira district) said that the majority of students were uncomfortable with testifying in Parliament, citing presence of the media.
Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo district) said that the committee should have gone an extra mile to provide a conducive environment to female students.
“There is no girl of young age who can openly testify that she was sexually assaulted. We should have waited for the exams to end and find a conducive environment for these girls to testify,” she said.
Robinah Rwakoojo (NRM, Gomba West) who chaired a select committee on alleged sexual harassment in institutions of learning, however said that Parliament is a conducive place for investigating cases of sexual harassment.
“We sat here as a select committee and we got information out of the girls. They came here for a public hearing and they opened up,” she said.
Roland Mugume (FDC, Rukungiri Municipality) advised senior female MPs to take interest in investigating allegations of sexual harassment at the university.
Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, gave the committee two weeks to complete the investigation.
“You cannot say that Parliament is not a conducive place. I think the problem is the timing. I think we should allow them to complete their task before we debate the report,” she said.