For the third year running, the Uganda Police Force has topped the list of state agencies singled out for torture in the 2013 annual human rights report.
Human rights complaints registered against the police increased by 22 per cent in the past year due to a rise in detention beyond 48 hours, torture and crackdown on political activities, the latest Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) report revealed.
The report officially launched in Kampala yesterday also pins the police for using disproportionate force in stopping demonstrations, illegal use of preventive arrests, and misuse of due process.
Complaints against the police increased from 346 in 2012 to 424 in 2013, making it the respondent with the highest number of complaints lodged for at least the third year running.
Private individuals followed at 163, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces at 55, Prisons at 36 and Local Government’s at 28.
The police again topped the torture list with 188 complaints registered against the Force, UPDF had 36 torture complaints, Prisons 26 while Local Governments and private individuals tied at 13.
Complaints against the Internal Security Organisation dropped.
The 2013 UHRC report is the latest indictment against the force following several reports by corruption-tracking agencies that have consistently ranked the police as the most corrupt state organ.
Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi, the chairperson of the NRM Women’s League, recently joined opposition politicians and activists in voicing disapproval against the Force, saying it is littered with “lumpens”.
Yesterday, the deputy police spokesperson, Ms Polly Namaye, said the findings of UHRC, the body charged with the constitutional mandate of upholding and protecting human rights in the country, are “unfortunate”, but insisted that there is an “increase in professionalism in the police”
“I am not saying that they are biased but it is always good to give credit where it is due,” Ms Namaye said.
The police was also faulted over the closure of media houses, including the Daily Monitor, in May last year.
The UHRC also noted that the police and Uganda Communications Commission further threatened media houses with closure if they discussed controversial issues like the 2012 mysterious death of the former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, the contentious letter authored by renegade General David Sejusa and UPDF’s incursion into South Sudan.
Last evening, the army said it would comment on the findings after evaluating the report.
“I have not read that report and the UPDF was not invited at the launch. I wish to get the report and read through those negative elements so that we can bring that to a definitive conclusion,” said the deputy UPDF spokesperson, Maj Robert Ngabirano.
“The method of operation and manner in which the [media] houses were cordoned off was in breach of the fundamental principle of the inalienable right to a fair hearing. The move by police to compel the journalists to reveal their source of information was in contravention of their professional ethical standards,”
2013 annual human rights report
Institution Cases against
Local Governments 13
Private individuals 13