MBARARA – The UPDF Deputy Commander of the 2nd Division, Col. Anthony Lukwago, has warned soldiers against torturing civilians.
He said torture is criminal and whoever is found culpable of the act will be individually accountable. Col. Lukwago was speaking at the opening of three-day training against torture organized by African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) in Mbarara on Monday.
“The word torture is something everyone would wish not to associate with; it does not only demean the dignity of someone but is also against fundamental freedom legally guaranteed by national and international laws. As UPDF we condemn any acts of torture,” Col. Lukwago said.
He added: “Whoever tortures any person or found to be torturing someone will stand for his actions as an individual but not UPDF as an institution.”
He further said UPDF must protect human rights and ensure Ugandans enjoy fundamental freedoms. Mr Paul Kirya, the Communications and Advocacy Officer ACTV, said whereas the human rights record of the UPDF has not been bad and ugly in the past, recent incidents like what happened in the Arua by-election raises a lot of questions of what could have gone wrong.
Over 80 UPDF soldiers from different units attended the training.
“This training has come timely; the UPDF needs to equip officers with knowledge on torture, freedom from torture and crime of torture. We also believe that the investigative departments of the UPDF need to understand non-coercive methods of investigation and interrogation,” said Mr Kirya.
He added that ACTV is looking at having partnership to treat and rehabilitate victims of torture within UPDF.
The warning comes days after the US government slapped economic and travel sanctions on Gen Kale Kayihura and his family, accusing the former Inspector General of Police of gross human rights violations.
In a statement published by the US State Department on Friday, September 13, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they have credible information that Gen Kayihura was involved in torturing civilians using the Flying Squad, a specialized unit of the Uganda Police Force.