UHRC report pins civilians, security forces on torture 

Mr Crispin Kashru, a member of UHRC

A 2023 report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has singled out impunity among both civilians and security agencies as the leading cause of torture and violation of human rights.

Mr Crispin Kaheru, a member of UHRC, who represented Ms Mariam Wangadya, the chairperson of UHRC, at a media engagement yesterday in Kampala, said some people carry out torture because they think they are “untouchables”.

 “Impunity among some Ugandans is contributing to a rise in torture cases. If we collectively break the back of impunity, we can effectively combat torture. Achieving this is possible through the combined efforts of both the state and non-state actors, I am optimistic; some progress has already been registered,” Mr Kaheru said ahead of the United Nations (UN) International Day in Support of Victims of Torture set for June 26.

“We have seen perpetrators who are sometimes not held to account. They perpetrate torture knowing they will not be held to account and this undermines the efforts to combat torture,” he added.
Ms Ida Nakiganda, the director of Complaints, Investigations, and Legal Services at UHRC, cited a lack of awareness of the provisions of laws that prohibit and criminalise acts of torture as causes of torture.

“Other causes of torture include insufficient training of law enforcement officers in methods of evidence collection, which may lead to torture to extract information and, low public awareness and sensitisation about human rights,” she said.
Mr Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, the executive director of the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV), presented data that shows increasing cases of torture.

“We had 103 complaints of torture in 2018, 394 in 2019, 104 in 2020, 166 in 2021, 136 in 2022, and 150 in 2023, totalling 1,053 complaints. Now, this calls for more civic education and sensitisation, targeting the public as well as more vigilance by the police and other security agencies,” Mr Nsubuga said.
 Mr Byonabye Kamadu, the director of Education at UHRC, criticised the low funding, which hinders their efforts to investigate the torture cases.

 “In the last Financial Year 2023/2024, alone, the Commission was given only Shs100 million to conduct research, and investigations across the 12 regional offices in the country, but found it difficult to conduct meaningful investigations,” Mr Kamadi said.
Data from UHRC shows that Shs74.5 million was awarded to victims of torture in 2023.