MP Zaake’s torture case to be heard next year

By Sania Babirye

The High court in Kampala has pushed to January next year the hearing of the case in which Mityana MP Francis Zaake Butebi is accusing four senior police commanders of torturing him while in detention.

He was arrested for distributing relief food to his voters in April this year at the beginning the COVID-19 lock down.

Justice Esta Nambayo has ordered all parties involved in the case to file written submissions and report back to court on January 13th 2021 for mention of the case.

However, journalists were barred from court because this was a closed session. They however expressed dissatisfaction with the judge’s decision to bar them from following the proceedings today, yet they have been covering the case before.

On the 26th of August this year,justice Esta Nambayo threw out an application by the attorney general seeking to dismiss the said torture case .

This is after state attorney Johnson Natuhwera , informed court that he was not in position to avail the respondent ; Moses Mugisha to be cross- examined on the contents of his affidavit which Zaake and his lawyer are claiming to be not true but just hear say evidence.

Zaake was later charged with defying a presidential directive on COVID19 at the Mitiyana magistrate court which the DPP has since dropped for lack of interest.

In his application, Zaake names the Wamala Regional police commander, Bob Kagarura, Alex Mwine; the Mityana district police commander, Elly Womonya; the commandant Special investigations unit and Abel Kandinho; Head CMI as being responsible for torturing him after he was arrested on the 19th of April 2020 from his home at Buswabulongo village in Mityana district by both Millitary and police officers.
He claims that senior security operatives slapped, kicked and sprayed in his eyes un unknown substance which almost blinded him.

He wants the high court to issue an order to compensate him in form of damages after the said police officers violated his human rights while in police custody.

Zaake’s torture case adjourned to August

The Mityana magistrate court has adjourned to the 2nd of September ruling on an application in which the director of public prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo asked court to take over a private case that MP Zaake instituted privately against six officers for allegedly torturing him while in detention.

The said officers include Mubende RPC Kagarura Bob, Mityana DPC Mwine Alex, SIU’s Twesigye Hamdan & Elly Womanya among others.

According to MP Zaake, the said officers tortured him after he was arrested on the 19th of April for disturbing relief food to his voters at the beginning of the COVID-19lockdown.

She then asked to take over the private case against the six aid officers but today, the rulling flopped because the trial magistrate and the said officers were not present in court.

Zaake has described today’s event as tactics by both the court and state to deny and delay him from getting the justice he deserved for torturing him.

Homeless youth drag LC3 to court over torture

By Robert Segawa

20 homeless youths have dragged the LC3 chairman of Kyengera town council Hajji Abdul Kiyimba to the high court civil division over torture allegations while in detention at Kitalya government Prison.

These have filed the said suit through Susan Baluka a legal officer Human rights awareness and promotion forum.

The group is jointly suing Kiyimba together with principal officer Philimon Waniola the deputy officer in charge of Kitalya min-max prison and attorney general.

In their application, the group contends that on the 29th of March 2020 they were part of the 23 youths who were arrested from a residence in Nkokonjeru they shared for violating the Presidential COVID-19 directives including public gatherings because they were many and believed to be homosexuals.

These claim that Hajji Kiyimba spear headed the said operation and that during the said arrest, they were Publicly beaten by Hajji Kiyimba as he dragged them to Nkokonjeru police post and after being charged in Mpigi magistrate court with doing a neglect act likely to spread a dangerous disease COVID-19, they were remanded at Kitalya government Prison.

These further claim that while at Kitalya for the next 42 days the torture continued with more beating,being denied food or sanitary facilities and that Waniola asked one of them to strip naked and burnt him with a burning wood between his thighs,denied access to their lawyers before the DPP withdrew the said charges against them.

These now want court to compel government to compensate them for the alleged torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and violation to privacy among other human rights violations.

Legislator demands quick compensation for torture victims

By Alice Lubwama

The leader of opposition Betty Aol Ocan wants a human rights fund to be created to have the victims  of torture compensated in time.

While appearing before the legal and parliamentary affairs committee currently scrutinizing the human Rights enforcement bill 2015, Aol said that  there has been a delay to effect the payment to  victims whom have been awarded compensation by the Uganda human rights tribunal yet some of them have undergone torture and cannot work for themselves any more.

This bill seeks to vest all powers of addressing human rights violation in high courts, currently being handled by the Uganda human rights tribunal.

Aol also suggest that human rights offenders should be the ones  to bear the costs to compensate the victims rather than Government  and also be charged and jailed if found guilty with the intention to reduce on the cases of human rights abuses.

According to the   human right reports  torture in detention centers has been  dominating the list of human rights violations.

The latest Uganda human rights report indicate that Uganda Police still tops the list of human rights violators, followed by private individuals and Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) .

Court grants bail to police officers accused of torture

By Babirye Sania

Four Police officers who are accused of touring the mayor of  Kamwenge Geoffrey Byamukama have been granted bail by  Buganda road court.

Chief magistrate Jamson Kareemani  has released  D/ASP Patrick Muramira and D/ASP FredTumuhairwe on a  2 million cash bail each while the other two Habib Roma and Ben Odeke  have been granted a one million cash bail.

The magistrate has ordered them to deposit their national identity cards, passports to court  and temporally  bared them  from accessing their former place of work until investigations into the case are complete

The four have also been ordered to report  to court twice  every week starting  on the 16th of June  2017.

On Friday last week the four were charged with two counts of torture  and causing  grievance  harm and pleaded not guilty

Prosecution led by Nelly Asiku states that on the 5th/April 2017 at Ministry of Lands  in the office of commissioner William Turyomurugyendo within Kampala district, the accused picked Mayor Byamukama and  unlawfully used iron bars and batons to beat him   thereby causing wounds on his knees and ankles.

 The officers allegedly committed the said offenses while in  the course of performing their duties  as they  transported Byamukama in  police van  Reg .  UAT 460Y.

Besigye calls for closure of Nalufenya

Former presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye, together with councillors from Kawempe Division, has demanded immediate closure of Nalufenya police station, a facility that is at the center of the recent torture allegations.

Councillors led by Harris Akampurira, who represents Makerere University, launched a campaign code-named ‘Nalufenya Must Fall’ saying that they were not satisfied with the report by Members of Parliament and demanded that if serious investigations are to be done the facility must be closed.

They argue that what takes place at Nalufenya Special Investigations Centre, located in Jinja District, is a violation of articles 24 and 44 of the constitution. Akampurira further says that police actions in Nalufenya run counter to the prevention and prohibition of torture Act, and all the international conventions that Uganda is signatory to.

Micheal Wamala Ziggwa, the city authority councillor for Kawempe South Councillor, wondered whether police will replace scooped people’s body parts when they find out that they were innocent.

He demanded that the facility be closed so that proper investigation is made.

The leaders demanded that human rights bodies together with inter-religious council of Uganda should all address the nation on what is happening on torture.

Since the leaking of photographs of tortured Kamwenge Town Council Mayor, Geoffrey Byamukama, and other suspects detained on allegations of killing former police spokesman, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, there has been wide condemnation of the acts of the security agencies.

Besigye said Nalufenya is just a manifestation of what he called captivity that Ugandans have been put into.

Besigye noted that Ugandans must not only focus on Nalufenya but look at all other forms of injustices.

He highlighted the former Nile Mansions, current Serena Hotel, which was a centre of torture and human rights abuse during Obote II government and the Nakasero State Research Bureau which was used by Idi Amin’s security agents.




Four police operatives arrested over torture of Byamukama

The Joint Police Task Force has finally arrested four police operatives accused of torturing Godfrey Byamukama, the Kamwenge Town Council LC 3 chairperson. They are Fred Tumuhirwe, Patrick Muramira, Moses Kasibante and Abdul Ssemuju alias Minaana.
According to a reliable Police source, the suspects were picked up on Saturday by a combined team of Flying Squad operatives, CID and Special Operations Unit. “We spent the last five days searching for them but now we have them in custody, they could not hide from us, said the source on condition of anonymity. The suspects are said to be in custody at Nalufenya police facility in Jinja District.
Police Spokesperson, Asan Kasingye couldn’t be reached for comment as his known phone numbers were off. URN has learnt that the suspects work under the Special Operations Unit (SOU), which was formed in 2014 at the peak of the operation against suspected members of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebel group in Eastern Uganda.
SOU just like the Flying squad Unit operates under the direct supervision of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kale Kayihura. Kayihura is deputized by Herbert Muhangi who is the commandant Flying Squad while SOU currently has no commandant following the removal of Nixon Ayegasire, two months the ago.
Initially, police had claimed the arrest of the four officers through the media. However, some members of the Police Accounts Committee expressed anguish on Wednesday when they learnt that none of the suspects was in custody as claimed.
As a result, the Police leadership tasked Police Spokesperson, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Asan Kasingye to call the media and apologise for giving false information.
According to police sources, Kasingye who also doubles as forces Chief Political Commissar refused the hold a media briefing that would depict him a liar and even threatened to resign.


East African community official granted bail after torture accusations

James Ocen Okuja, the Principal Assistant Secretary in the East African Community Affairs Ministry is in trouble for alleged torture. Ocen appeared before Alex Mushabe Korecho, the Lira Chief Magistrate on Tuesday afternoon on two counts of torture contrary to section 24 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012.

He is accused of torturing and inflicting serious injuries on 31-year-old Paul Ocen, a UPDF soldier attached to the 63 Infantry Battalion Headquarters at Palaro Barracks in Gulu and Lameck Owong, a resident of Acengryeny in Dokolo district.

Prosecution led by Washua Bengu, the State Prosecutor told court that Ocen tortured the duo when they went to celebrate International Labor Day at his Dokolo hotel. According to Bengu, the two were part of several revelers who were rounded up by Ocen and others still at large on allegations of trespass and vandalizing hotel property.

It is alleged that after rounding up their victims, Ocen and his accomplices tied them with ropes and tortured them overnight before he called the Dokolo District Police Commander, Aminsi Kayondo Lukanga to collect them the following morning.

Prosecution alleges that the suspects were smeared with a mixture of ash and salt before they were assaulted with hot metallic objects. Ocen pleaded not guilty to the charges and applied for bail through his lawyer, Innocent Omara of Omara Innocent and Company Advocate on grounds of ill health and being of advanced age.

He presented his uncle Faustine Pule, a resident of Adari b village in Dokolo and his sister, Otak Esther Okuja, the Lira District Senior Accountant as his sureties. Bengu objected to the bail application, saying Ocen could use his influential position in society to interfere with the investigations and compromise witnesses in the case.

In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate Alex Mushebe Kerecho, said being of advanced age and his medical condition, the accused requires continuous medical attention, which the state may not provide. He also said the prosecution had failed to adduce evidence showing that the accused would jeopardize investigations and compromise witnesses once given bail.

He granted Ocen bail and directed him to deposit his passport in court and execute a cash bond of Shillings 300,000.  Each of his sureties executed a non-cash bond of Shillings 500,000. Ocen, who met all the bail conditions, is expected to return to court on May 31st for the commencing of the hearing of his case.

The suspect who was dressed in a Dark-Blue suit and dark blue necktie doted white, appeared nervous throughout the fully packed court session. He loosened up as he walked out of the court room with his son. Once found guilty, Ocen could get up to 15 years in jail as provided for in the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012.

Section 4 (1) of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012, provides that a person who performs any act of torture commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for fifteen years or to a fine of three hundred and sixty currency points which is equivalent to Shillings 7.2 Million or both.




Civil society organizations deman that legislators investigate Nalufenya incident

By Wasswa Deo

Uganda Coalition Against Torture   has come out to demands that Uganda prisons services reject all suspects tortured prior to remand.

According to the  statement released in reaction to the inhumane torture of 13 men formally detained at Nalufenya police station. The 13 suspects were  implicated in the murder of AIGP Andrew Felix Kawesi, and his driver Godfrey Wambewo and body guard Kenneth Erau.

According to Muhammad Ndifuna the executive director of human rights network, Ugandans are losing hope in the ability by their government to protect them from acts of torture by security operatives.

Among others demands mentioned in the statement,  the Human rights committee of the parliament should conduct an investigation into the allegations of torture and specifically at Nalufenya,  Uganda government  should ratify the optional protocol; to the convention against Torture (OPCAT 2006) to allow free and unlimited access to all detention facilities in the country for inspection by Human rights bodies.

Democratic Party decries the torture of suspects in Nalufenya

By Segawa Robert
Democratic Party (DP) has condemned the Police for torturing suspects in the killing of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
While addressing media at DP offices in Kampala Fred Mwesigwa, the DP Press Secretary  said it is wrong to torture suspects while in detention.
He questioned how Police could defend that the suspects were injured before arrest. He adds that they were paraded in court with fresh wounds while others were rotting.
Mwesigwa also warned security against turning Nalufenya into a torture center and advised them to transfer the center from Busoga to another part of the country.
To this, Mwesigwa called on security to follow guidance from International Law on Torture.
Mwesigwa asked Uganda Human Rights Commission to revisit Nalufenya Detention Center to monitor how secure the facility is.