What you need to know:
- According to a report by the African Centre for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, which was released in 2021, the organisation registered more than 1,000 cases of torture and violence in Uganda.
- Of these 371 were allegedly committed by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), while 126 were reportedly carried out by the police.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the fight against torture.
Speaking at a national dialogue to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in Kampala yesterday, Mr Crispin Kaheru, a commissioner at the UHRC, said acts of torture tend to thrive behind closed doors and in the dark.
“So, if we embrace openness, transparency and accountability, then we are halfway there dealing with this problem. We must continuously give victims, their family members and the public the confidence to report torture cases. Prompt investigation and prosecution is key here,” Mr Kaheru, who represented UHCR chairperson Mariam Wangadya, said.
He urged Ugandans to fight “the creeping culture of impunity” by avoiding acts such as arbitrary arrests, harassment, gender-based violence, intimidation and arbitrary detentions, which are sometimes occasioned by mere impunity.
“Some people feel they are above the law and can get away with anything. So, breaking the cycle of torture will require addressing the question of impunity. Those that involve themselves in heinous acts of torture must pay the price,” he said.
According to a report by the African Centre for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, which was released in 2021, the organisation registered more than 1,000 cases of torture and violence in Uganda.
Of these 371 were allegedly committed by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), while 126 were reportedly carried out by the police.
An earlier report by the same organisation revealed that between 2017 and 2018, 600 of the cases registered were allegedly committed by the police and 443 cases by the army.
According to the 2021 report, fewer cases had been reported against the UPDF in previous years because torture rehabilitation services were limited.
The report further noted that punishment of suspected criminals, forced confessions and intimidation accounted for 63.6 percent of the cases.
Mr Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, ACTV’s chief executive officer, in an interview with the Daily Monitor in July 2022 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 said physical torture included 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 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.
Efforts to get a comment from ICT and National Guidance minister Chris Baryomunsi were futile as he did not answer our repeated calls.
Mr Luke Owoyesigire, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson’s number was not available.
However, during the dialogue yesterday, Mr Isaiah Igumira, the head of legal in the Criminal Investigations Directorate, said: “We are open to working with anyone willing to improve on the strides we have made so far [in the fight against torture].”