KAMPALA – The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has condemned a demonstration by a group of concerned Ugandans at the United Nations Office on Human Rights, to present a petition urging the UN to withdraw funding to the Commission for its perceived inaction against allegations of torture in the country.
The protesters claim that whereas UN has continuously funded UHRC, the commission has kept silent on the recurring forced missing and torture.
Recently, media was a wash of illegal arrests and torture of several Ugandans including Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.
Kakwenza before securing a bail was remanded to Kitalya prison on the 11th of January on charges of Offensive Communication to the person of President Kaguta Museveni and his son Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
The victim with physical brussels of torture was bared barred by court together with his lawyers from commenting about the case in the press or media, as doing so will culminate into an automatic cancellation of his bail.
Another victim, Samuel Masereka, who is a NUP cordinator for Kasese District came out earlier this month with visible wounds and marks of torture, saying that he was arrested because of his political affiliation to NUP.
Addressing journalists at their NUP headquarters last week, Masereka said that he was asked about NUP’s plans and funders while in detention before being subjected to torture and later released.
However, Minister for ICT and National Guidance Chris Baryomunsi said that Masereka was arrested on intelligence that he was working with the ADF rebel group.
He told the press at the Uganda Media Centre on Wednesday said that security traced messages and government has evidence that Masereka’s mobile number was being used communicate with the ADF rebels.
“The Uganda Human Rights Commission strongly condemns acts of torture against all Ugandans by anyone, and continues to engage Government in general and Security agencies in particular to address these allegations whenever they arise,” Mariam Wangadya, Commission Chairperson said in a statement.
“We specifically wish to inform the general public and all relevant stakeholders that UHRC has taken keen interest in the allegations that have been playing out in the media in the recent past.”
The Commission claims they made efforts to ascertain where Mr. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was being held and urged Government to ensure that he was produced in Court to face any possible charges against him.
“Once he was arraigned before Court, UHRC followed this up with a visit to him at Kitalya Prison where he was remanded. We urged Mr. Rukirabashaija to lodge a complaint with the Commission and even followed this up with his lawyers. However we later learnt that Mr. Rukirabashaija had fled the country.”
In relation to Mr. Masereka, a supporter of one of the National Unity Platform – NUP, UHRC claims it reached out to his lawyers with a view to commencing investigations but were advised by his lawyer that he had preferred to file a Civil Suit in the High Court.
“UHRC will not intervene in a matter which is before a Court of law as provided by article 53(4) of the Constitution.”
The Commission urged the general public to report to them allegations of torture and other human rights violations for investigation and redress where necessary.
“We urge the public to allow the relevant institutions to perform their functions of upholding the law, good governance and human rights. It is unfair and unkind of any citizen of Uganda to attempt to weaken National Institutions like the UHRC.”