KAMPALA – High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana has ordered the Attorney General to pay a woman Shs25million in compensation for the death of her son who died in police custody at Nabbingo in Wakiso District in 2007.
Ms. Joyce Bikyahaga Namata, the mother of the late Ronald Bikyahaga, sued the government against the actions of the police officers who were attached to Nabbingo Police Post in Wakiso District claiming they were wrongful, unlawful and a violation of human rights when they killed her son.
The judge also awarded costs to Ms. Bikyahaga which he said shall attract the interest of 12 percent from the date of Judgement and also ordered the government to pay her legal costs she incurred.
According to court documents, on October 15 2007, the deceased was in a film hall at Nabbingo when he was arrested by the police officers who violently beat and dragged him into the police cells with several injuries on his body and as a result was found dead the next morning.
Court document indicates that a condolence message issued by the former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura on October 17, 2007, intimating: “…The management of the Uganda Police Force was disturbed by the fact that preliminary investigations show the death occurred at the hands of three policemen who had gone to effect an arrest of the late…”
To the effect of the condolence message, Justice Ssekaana noted that it is controverted evidence that indeed the deceased’s death occurred at the hands of the police hence proving the plaintiff’s (Bikyahaga) claim that her late son died while in police custody.
The judge while citing the East African Cases on the Law, ruled that an employer is in general liable for the acts of his employees or agents while in the course of the employers business or within the scope of employment.
He noted that the delinquent police officers were effecting the arrest of the deceased when they severely beat him resulting into his untimely death.
“Effecting arrests is within the scope of employment of police officers hence making the Uganda police force vicariously liable despite the fact that the police officers deliberately and illegally tortured the deceased which is unconstitutional,” justice Ssekaana said.
The court ruled that the errant police officers violated the non-derogable rights of the deceased against torture and his right to life which accordingly calls for compensation.