Gen Otafiire orders probe into Opposition meeting on torture

Armed men in plainclothes patrol downtown Kampala after protests broke following the arrest of Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, in Luuka District on November 19, 2020. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Gen Otafiire accuses the Opposition leaders of tarnishing the image of the country during a meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Minister of Internal Affairs has directed the police to investigate Opposition leaders over a protest against torture, which they held in Nairobi, Kenya, last month.

Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire said some of the people who were paraded before the international press as torture victims were motorcycle accident survivors, which he said was tantamount to treason.

“I have discovered that some of the people who were taken for a demonstration were boda boda accident victims. People claimed that they were victims of torture,” Maj Gen Otafiire said yesterday.

He said the protest damaged Uganda’s image abroad.

The Nairobi meeting was attended by several Opposition leaders, including the National Unity Platform party president, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine,  former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, and the Alliance for National Transformation leader, Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu.

The demonstration was held to commemorate the killing of dozens of people during security forces crackdown on protesters following the arrest of Bobi Wine during the presidential campaigns in Luuka District in 2020.

During a meeting held after the demonstration, some of the people showed scars as they gave testimonies that they were arrested by security forces and tortured for supporting Opposition parties.

Gen Otafiire called for punishment of individual security personnel involved in torture of suspects.

“I am not saying that some of you are holy. You beat up should be arrested because when you beat a suspect you should be prosecuted,” he said.

When this newspaper contacted the spokesperson of NUP,  Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, about the minister’s statements, he dismissed the claims as baseless and identified  some of the purported tortured victims.

“There is Frank Ssenteza, who was knocked dead at Busega by a military vehicle. Rita Nabukenya was also knocked dead by a police car, but the police later claimed there were CCTV cameras in the area. When we insisted on viewing the footage, the police spokesman, Mr Fred Enanga, said the cameras were faulty at that time. If Gen Otafiire is looking for evidence, he should talk to people like Enanga,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.

Several human rights agencies, including government-owned ones, accuse security forces of forced disappearances, torture and harassment of people because of their political affiliations.

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola issued tough guidelines against the torture of suspects, but the vice still continues.

Many of the suspects are arrested by joint security teams and detained in ungazetted facilities where they are tortured for days.