KAMPALA — The Uganda Law Society (ULS), the umbrella organization of legal practitioners in the country has slammed security forces for torturing suspects in the murder of Brenda Nantongo, driver Haruna Kayondo and attempted assassination of General Katumba Wamala.
Ms. Pheona Wall Nabasa, ULS President has since demanded for individual prosecution of all persons involved in acts of torture against the suspects.
“We refer to Section 10 of the Human Rights Enforcement Act which provides that a public officer who individually or in association with others, violates or participates in the violation of a person’s rights or freedoms shall be held personally liable for the violation notwithstanding the state being vicariously liable for his or her actions,” said Nabasa in a statement.
She also asked court to make an order to take the suspects for further medical treatment.
Security forces have come under fire for torturing suspects, with both the president the publicly recognizing the problem and calling for it to end.
On June1, Gen Katumba Wamala survived an assassination attempt in Kampala. One month later, police said they were holding over 9 suspects; however, it was a month before those individuals appeared in court.
Several other suspects were shot and killed by security forces under unclear circumstances. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Paul Lokech said they were resisting arrest.
Last week, five suspects, highly covered with gruises, wounds and burn marks were arraigned before the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Nakawa on charges of terrorism and the subsequent murder of a daughter and driver to the Minister for Works and Transport General Katumba Wamala.
When the suspects were brought to court for, for the first time, last week, the detainees told the magistrate they were being beaten. They raised their hands several times, showing the magistrate wounds and bruises on their wrists. They said they were being kept handcuffed for long periods of time and were not being fed.
They also accused Police of torturing them to illicit confessions.
President Yoweri Museveni had in a public letter to security chiefs said torture is “unnecessary and wrong” and does not produce reliable evidence. He said torture is not to be used.
Uganda’s anti-torture act of 2012 prohibits intentionally causing pain to anyone to obtain information or a confession. Conviction of violating that law could result in imprisonment for 15 years.
Proof of torture has undermined prosecutions in Uganda. At least two cases have been dropped in recent years after defense lawyers presented evidence that their clients had been tortured while in custody.