Following president Museveni’s against torture, Uganda People’s Defense Forces and police have distanced themselves from torture allegations claiming that the suspects are being tortured in the custody after being arrested.
According to them, none of the said security agencies has a policy that encourages the torture of suspects in their custody.
President Museveni’s while addressing the nation on security situation over the weekend, he warned security agencies against disrespecting the human rights of Ugandans and other people in the country.
In his address, the president said the NRM doesn’t believe in beating people for any reason warning security agencies against beating Ugandans while enforcing Covid-19 standard operating procedures adding that it is totally unacceptable.
“Nobody should be in the uniform of the army when they don’t respect the people of Uganda. When you’re in the army don’t bark at people, don’t beat people or even criminals. Don’t beat children. Nobody should beat any Ugandan. Human rights of the people of Uganda were one of main reasons why NRM went to bush and fought for all those years,”Museveni said on Saturday.
“Every soldier and policeman listening to me and any Ugandan should know that is the position of the NRA and Constitution of Uganda. No one should be in the uniform of the army if you can’t respect the people of Uganda. Don’t bark at people. That is not a people’s army. Don’t beat members of the public or even criminals. You are not allowed to beat anyone.”
President Museveni said this was wrong and unnecessary.
He warned and reminded security agencies of the guidelines he issued in 2017 on respecting human rights and avoiding torturing of suspects, the president said these should be followed to the dot.
However, addressing journalists on Monday, the deputy UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu said the Ugandan army doesn’t condone torture of suspects or any other person.
“It is only individuals who get highhanded and use unnecessary force against suspects. From the perspective of the UPDF, even before the president came out, we have a zero tolerance policy to any acts of human rights violations including torture,”Kakurungu said.
He noted that the UPDF has on several occasions gone at length to punish officers involved in acts of human violations, adding that they have a fully-fledged directorate to ensure promotion of human rights.
“We even have fully fledged directorate for human rights which among other things always conducts periodic training to members of the forces and also monitors in case there are any violations and reports them for subsequent action.”
The deputy Defence spokesperson however insisted that any cases of such human violations are carried out by officers on their individual basis and not as a policy by the Ugandan army.
The police spokesperson Fred Enanga while speaking at the same press briefing, said the law and order enforcement body has put in place several mechanisms to prevent acts of torture of suspects or any other member of the public.
“The IGP has acknowledged that the communication by the president is in line with the various anti-torture laws of Uganda which do prohibit all acts of torture. Therefore there is no justification whatsoever or under any circumstances in the police or from a superior officer or public authority for torture,” Enanga said.
He noted that whereas the police cannot claim to have a perfect record, IGP Ochola’s leadership has tried to deal with elements within the force accused of torturing suspects.
“As a result of continued concerns of torture, the IGP has pledged to continue the efforts in the police to ensure appropriate guidelines on the use of force and authority. The IGP pledges to ensure all forms of physical, psychological or mental abuse by police officers are punished and officers involved in torture face criminal charges over the same.’’ He added.
The president also displayed footage captured by media in which the Gen Katumba shooting suspects told court that they had been tortured while in police custody.
His warning followed the recent alleged torture of the suspects in the attempted murder case of General Katumba Wamala reignited debate among human rights defenders on the rights of detainees.
The suspects who were paraded before court last had visible wounds on their bodies’ allegedly sustained while in police custody.
These included Kagugube Muhammad, Walusimbi Kamada, Kisambira Siriman Ayuub, Abdulaziz Ramadhan Dunku, Habib Ramadhan Marjan.
The Uganda Law Society (ULS), an umbrella body bringing together all legal practitioners in the country also condemned the acts of torture against the suspects.
“ULS is outraged by reports of torture and the state in which police arraigned the suspects in the assassination attempt against General Katumba Wamala before at the Chief Magistrate Court Nakawa on July 8 2021.The suspects are reported to have appeared before the Court with visible injuries and burns on their bodies,” said Pheona Nabasa Wall, President ULS in a statement.