Sunday April 13 2014

US group revives case of suspect tortured to death


He was arrested for allegedly participating in a robbery. However, a few hours later, the 20-year-old was found dead, and in the hands of the police. Frank Sekanjako is the subject of renewed interest, this time from an overseas rights group, to punish those responsible for his death.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week petitioned the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mike Chibita to re-open the case file and conclude the case.
In the April 3 letter to the DPP and IGP, Ms Maria Burnett, the senior Researcher, Africa division at HRW wrote: “The evidence of police brutality is overwhelming in this case, but police and prosecutors have failed for over three years now to ensure that justice is done.
Police and the DPP should complete investigations into the August 2010 killing of a suspect in police custody and ensure that a trial begins expeditiously.”

On Monday, April 14, Mr Chibita wrote back in a letter copied to several Western embassies in Kampala affirming his office’s commitment to seeing the case to its end.

According to HRW, Sekanjako was arrested by police for allegedly participating in a burglary; he was, however, handed over to the now disbanded Rapid Response Unit, (RRU) a police crack squad established at the time to deal with violent and serious crimes. RRU was disbanded after police admitted its actions disgraced the Force.

Three officers attached to the unit were arrested, but released shortly.
“Clearly, police leadership felt concerned enough about what they witnessed after being called to Mulago [hospital] and seeing Ssekanjako’s body that day to detain the three RRU officers and charge them with murder.

There is no doubt that someone died in the custody of police and that alone should prompt significant concern and action on the part of both police and the DPP,” HRW observed.