The High Court in Kampala has dismissed a number of human rights violation claims, including torture claims by 49 jailed supporters of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), citing lack of evidence.
In her ruling, the presiding judge, Esta Nambayo Tuesday said it was not enough for NUP supporters to make torture claims against the state without backing the same with medical records.
"It is not enough for the applicants’ witnesses to only present sworn affidavits claiming that they were tortured and that the signs of torture were visible on the applicants. The alleged tortured persons should have presented medical evidence to corroborate their claims. It is not enough for the applicants' witnesses to tell court that they had visible wounds of torture. I find that the evidence presented by the applicants is not enough to sustain the claim of torture," she noted.
Justice Nambayo ruled that the NUP supporters led by former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi’s singing partner, Ali Bukeni alias Nubian Li and his personal guard Eddie Ssebuufu alias Eddie Mutwe, were lawfully charged before the army court at Makindye, Kampala with the offence of unlawful possession of ammunition.
The group had filed a petition challenging their prosecution simultaneously before two courts; Masaka Chief Magistrates and the General Court Martial, which they said was unconstitutional.
They had also argued that the military does not have powers to detain them whether at the barracks or anywhere else.
Further, they had wanted the court to pronounce that their detention, torture, arraignment and trial contravenes the Constitution and tenets of separation of powers.
"In the result, I find that the charging of the applicants at the General Court Martial at Makindye is within the law. The record of proceedings from the General Court Martial shows that the Court Martial followed the right procedure within the law as has been established therein above," she ruled.
Adding: "What has to be determined by the Court Martial is whether or not the applicants committed the offence they were charged with. Therefore, I find no merit in this application and it is hereby dismissed from court and since the matter seems to still be ongoing at the Court Martial, each party will bare their own costs."
She further states that what had to be determined by the Court Martial is whether or not the NUP supporters committed the offences with which they were charged.
"Therefore, I find no merit in this application and it is hereby dismissed from court since the matter seems to still be ongoing at the Court Martial each party will bare its own costs."
The suspects were arrested last year from Kalangala Island where their principal, Mr Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, had gone to campaign ahead of the January 14 elections.
At least 13 of them have since been released on bail by the military court while the 37 are still on an indefinite remand at Kitalya prison.
The army court chairman, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti declined to grant the 37 bail on grounds that they might instigate violence in the aftermath of the general elections.