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.

Man accuses Bishop Odoki’s security guards of torture

Security personnel deployed to guard the premises of the Bishop of Arua Diocese, Sabino Odoki at Ediofe Cathedral are on the spot for alleged torture.
Jamal Waka, a resident of Aiivu Village in Pajulu Sub County accuses the guards of arresting him and torturing him on Thursday last week as he was returning from a trade fair at Arua Hill Bomah Grounds.
According to Waka, after torturing him, the guards handed him over to Arua Central Police Station, which kept him in the cells for six days before he was produced in court on Wednesday.
Waka appeared before Arua Chief, Magistrate William Robbs Komakech who granted him non cash bond of Shillings one million. He is expected to return to court on January 18th 2017 for the mention of his case.
Shortly after his release, Waka told URN that on the fateful night, he was walking back home from the trade fair at around 1am when he was intercepted by a combined team of Police and UPDF officers guarding the Bishop’s home accusing him of abusing Bishop Odoki.
According to Waka, on sensing danger he tried to flee but the security officers hit him with a stick and he fell down.

According to Waka, he spent close to a week in the police cell without any medical help.

Alingozi Kamura, a brother to the torture victim says the action of the security personnel is uncalled for. He says it was wrong for officers to descend on unarmed civilian and torture him to that magnitude.

Police have not yet commented on the matter as the West Nile Region, Police Spokesperson; Josephine Angucia was not available by the time of filing this story.

This is the second case in, which Police officers are being implicated for torturing a suspect in West Nile region within a space of two weeks.

Over a week ago, Joseph Okongo, an office at Pakwach Police Station also beat up a suspect over mistaken identity.

Okongo has since then been summoned by the regional professional standards unit to respond to the charges of torture.


ICC disregards Ongwen’s traumatic childhood as they prepare for first trial

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have acknowledged that Dominic Ongwen was abducted as child and conscripted into the ranks of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ranks.

The prosecutors led by Fatou Bensouda, however, told judges at The Hague-based court that this would not exonerate Ongwen from prosecution.

They argued that Ongwen, now in his 40s, rose through the LRA ranks and became one of the most senior commanders, a position he could have exploited to denounce rebellion.

“The evidence shows that Dominic Ongwen was a murderer and a rapist,” submitted Bensouda as Ongwen’s long awaited trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity started today.

The prosecutors said they have sufficient evidence, including voice recordings from radio communications, which implicate Ongwen for crimes he committed in four different internally displaced people’s camps in Gulu, Amuru and Oyam districts in Northern Uganda.

Prosecutors further say about 30 former abductees who were under Ongwen’s command are available to testify as witnesses to the court.   She said these represent large numbers of the civilian population that went through torture and suffering in the hands of Dominic Ongwen.

Earlier, Ongwen had pleaded not guilty to all the seventy counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, noting that it was LRA not Ongwen that committed the atrocities.To this, Bensouda noted that while Ongwen’s own traumatic past as a 14-year-old abductee could be a mitigating factor for judges considering a sentence if he is convicted, it cannot begin to amount to a defense or a reason not to hold him accountable for his decisions.

She said that the choice to embrace the murderous violence used by the LRA and make it a hallmark of the attacks carried out by his soldiers was entirely his.

The burden of proof, however, is on the ICC prosecutors to prove Ongwen’s involvement in all the 70 charges of crimes allegedly committed in the four case areas between 2002 and 2005.

Ongwen’s defense team is expected respond to the accusations in tomorrow’s session that will mark an end to the opening of the trial.

With Ongwen pleading not guilty, court will engage psychiatric experts to determine the mental soundness of the accused before deliberating further on his alleged criminal responsibilities as an individual within the LRA ranks

The ICC outreach office and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) set up several live-streaming points in in Lukodi, Pajule and Odek villages in Northern Uganda as well as in Kampala.



Police boss faces court over criminal charges of torture

The Uganda Police Force has taken over the defense of its Inspector General Kale Kayihura who faces criminal charges of torture as an individual.

Makindye Chief Magistrates Court last week summoned General Kayihura and seven other senior police commanders to appear in court to answer charges of torture and inhuman treatment.

The move by court is in connection with the recent beating of former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye’s supporters in Kampala.

Despite the officers being charged as individuals in line with the provisions of the Anti-torture Act, police management says it will use its Legal and Human Rights Directorate to defend their actions in court.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga says the force is still waiting to receive summons from the complainant’s lawyer to begin preparing defence for the officers charged. “Even if they are charged individually, we will be defending them because all of them including the IGP were acting on behalf of the police,” Enanga says.

According to the criminal summons signed off by Chief Magistrate Richard Mafabi, the police chief and the other officers are “commanded by the Uganda government to appear in this court on the 10th day of August 2016 at 10am or soon thereafter as the case can be heard.”

Some of the officers facing torture charges include three commanders who are currently on suspension. They include Andrew Kaggwa who until the suspension was Kampala South Regional commander and Samuel Bamuziibire, the suspended Kampala Metropolitan Field Force Unit commander.

Others are Patrick Muhumuza, operations commander of Field Force Unit – Kampala Metropolitan South who is also on suspension Moses Nanoka who was suspended as Wandegeya Division police commander. Also on the list are James Ruhweza who is head of operations, Kampala Metropolitan, Wesley Nganizi, Regional police commander, Kampala North, and Geoffrey Kaheebwa, Deputy Regional Police Commander, Kampala South.

Most of these commanders who the police Director Human Rights Erasmus Twaruhukwa will be defending are already undergoing prosecution in the Police disciplinary court.

The officers   are charged with offense of torture contrary to sections 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012.

The private lawyers behind this case allege that Kayihura and his officers, being superior officers of the Uganda Police Force, in various places in and around Kampala, are liable for the acts of torture committed against supporters of Dr Besigye.

Lawyers identify the victims as Joseph Kaddu, Andrew Ssebitosi, Rogers Ddiba and other members of the general public including boda-boda riders.

The officers are also facing a civil suit by two victims of the alleged torture. The two victims, Ronald Muhereza and Michael Nyesiga, are seeking compensation of 50 million shillings each for torture, loss of their motorbikes, work and being humiliated.