Wednesday June 25 2014

Human rights body directs government to pay torture victims

By Sandra Janet Birungi


Ugandans have been urged to speak out when they are tortured in order to fight abuse and human rights violation.

Mr Agaba Maguru, the acting chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission, also asked the government during a community dialogue on torture at Nakesero Market in Kampala, to pay victims of abuse.

The government has a bill of Shs3b that it must pay to compensate torture victims.

Mr Agaba was speaking ahead of the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims to be celebrated on June 26, in Gulu District. He said the enactment of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act has not prevented an increase in torture as a form of human rights abuse.
“It is therefore imperative that all actors effectively use the new anti-torture law to curb human rights abuse,” Mr Agaba said.

According to a 2013 Uganda Human Rights Commission report, there was a 73.7 per cent increase in the number of complaints with a case file of 4,753 petitions recorded.

Ms Ruth Ssekindi, the director Complaints, Investigations and Legal Services at the Uganda Human Rights Commission, said the different cases had been properly investigated, ruling out malice and favouritism of any government agency.

“Most of the complaints are against government with police ranking highest,” she said. According to the report, police had the highest number of complaints [188] followed by the Uganda People’s Defence Force, with 36.

However, Mr Muzafaru Zirabamuzale, the superintendent of police, Kampala Metropolitan, said the increase in torture cases among police is premised on the increased deployment of officers among communities in a bid to fight crime.