Army overtakes police in torture, says report

A man shows torture marks in court in 2017. Photo / Abubaker Lubowa

KAMPALA- The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has overtaken police in torturing Ugandans, according to the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) in its latest report on torture.

During 2017-2018 period, the ACTV registered 600 cases of torture attributed to police and 443 cases committed by the army.
However in 2018-19, the bulk of the torture cases shifted to the UPDF. The latest report shows UPDF committed 440 torture cases in Karamoja Sub-region compared to 14 cases by police. However in Kampala, the police led the 263 torture charts, with 263 cases compared to the 44 cases by UPDF.
In Gulu District, police committed 154 cases and UPDF committed 75. This brings the total torture cases by the army to 559 compared to 441 by police.

“Many of the high torture cases against the army were attributed to the disarmament process which had been ongoing for over 10 years,” the report reads in part.

In previous years, the report noted that fewer cases had been reported against the UPDF because the torture rehabilitation services in Karamoja had been limited.

However, with the introduction of the torture rehabilitation services in the sub-region in the latter years of the disarmament, more cases hitherto unreported were registered.

The report further noted that punishment of suspected criminals, forced confession and intimidation jointly accounted for 63.6 per cent.

Gaps in interrogation
Mr Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, the ACTV chief executive officer, said this clearly highlights a gap in security forces utilising coercive interrogation and investigation techniques.

“Capacity building of security agencies in coercive interrogation techniques is still key in order to ensure that torture is not perpetrated by security officers,” he said.

He further revealed that most cases of physical torture were beating which accounted for 2,101 cases, positional torture (91), conditions of detention (85), sexual torture (76), penetrating injuries (58), asphyxiation (37), and deprivation of normal sensory stimulation (24).

Other forms of torture were by crush injuries (18 cases), chemical exposure (15), electric shocks (5) and medical amputation (two).

Psychological torture techniques registered 79 cases, threats (74), humiliation (72) witnessing torture of others (38), enforced disappearances (two) among others.

Appeal to media
Mr Nsubuga called on the community and media to speak out against torture countrywide in order to eliminate the vice.
The army spokesperson, Brigadier Richard Karemire, declined to comment, saying he had not seen the report. “I cannot comment on a report which I have not seen; I need to first read it and then make a formal comment,” he said.

Police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga also declined to comment on the report for the same reason.

“When such reports come, they first go to our Department of Legal Affairs, which analyses the figures, then that is when we can come up with a full statement,” he said.