Torture cases involving government security agencies are on the rise in the country, a new report by African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of torture victims-ACTV has revealed.
Uganda Police tops the list of government agencies involved torture. According to the report, 1663 torture cases were recorded in 2013 compared to 1337 registered the previous year.
1093 of the torture victims are Ugandans, while the remaining victims include Kenyans, Congolese, Rwandese and Somalis. 180 of these cases are directly connected to the Uganda Police Force. Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson says it is unfortunate that the force has been leading the torture statistics because their mandate involves protecting the rights of people.
Enanga says police processes over 1.5 million suspects each year, adding that 180 is a low number, which shouldn’t cause alarm. According to the report, Police used torture as one of the techniques of extracting information from suspects on court bond. But human rights lawyer Nicholas Opio says using torture to extract confession from suspect is counterproductive since it is inadmissible in court. The report also noted a sharp rise in the number of female torture victims.
According to the report, 747 women were tortured in 2013 compared to 441 in 2012. A record number of 363 cases are currently in courts with civilians suing various government agencies for torture. Other agencies cited in the report are Uganda People’s Defense Forces, Crime Preventers – a volunteer force of the Police, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and DRC militia.
In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report calling upon government to investigate the Police and Rapid Response Units for various accounts of torture. Uganda has had a track record of human rights abuses relating to torture. In 2012, government passed the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act with the aim of containing the situation. Some of the documented forms of torture recorded in the report include beatings, assault and psychological torture.