MP Zaake torture embarrasses country

Sunday May 10 2020

 

By George Ntambaazi

It is difficult to understand why Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP, gets tortured by secu
rity operatives every time they arrest
him. He nearly died in Arua Municipality bye-election fracas alongside Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagu-
lanyi, aka Bobi Wine and others.

Ugandans had hoped that the change in Police leadership would stamp out torture but it appears the
more things change, the more they remain the same. Numerous human rights reports rank security agen-
cies highest in torturing Ugandans.

Just in the first quarter of 2020, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has received over 1,000 allegations
of Police-orchestrated torture.

In this lock-down, it’s perhaps fitting to say that the public fears security forces more than the Covid-19

pandemic.

In Parliament on Thursday, Internal Affairs state minister Kania Obiga accused Zaake of having tor-
tured himself. While Zaake nurses his wounds in hospital, the officers who tortured him are at large. I
suspect the errant officers have benefited from specialised training, seminars and workshops on how to
professionally do their work.
They are certainly aware of Uganda’s past brutal security regimes and the obligation to protect

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people’s rights and freedoms in execution of their duties. They certainly know the distinction between

the role and function of Police and the military in enforcing law and order, and obligations enshrined in
international, regional and national anti-torture legislation to which Uganda is a party. The officers are
aware that any officer responsible for torture faces both criminal and administrative sanctions, appropri-
ate to their personal liability, including imprisonment and job loss.

I also suspect that, both in public and private they like being treated well. I assume they profess a cer-
tain faith and they pride donning a national uniform. Most importantly, the officers must be having families.
They feel good when their children call them dad. The irony is, they think they own this country and are
untouchable.

When human rights were included in our Constitution, they became legal claims for every citizen.

Fundamentally, the public expects the security organs to prevent and detect crime, preserve law and order,
and protect life and property.
Every officer should know that the question of guilt is not determined by them. It is the function of courts
of competent jurisdiction to find the guilt of the accused.
In the case of MP Zaake, arrested on April 19 on allegations of giving food to his constituents in breach of
anti-Covid-19 guidelines, television footage showed a lawful arrest. A week later, he appeared extremely
tortured. While in his hospital bed in Rubaga Hospital, he narrated how he was kicked and beaten with ba-
tons, wire cables and sticks.

The 2012 Anti-torture Act stipulates that any person convicted of an act of torture may be subjected to
15 years imprisonment. Let no one deceive you that you taught Zaake a lesson, you rather embarrassed our
country. Torturing citizens kills the spirit of cooperation with the people.
Do not allow security organs to be perceived as tools of partisan politics and state repression.

George Ntambaazi

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