Brig. Charles Wacha, the Director in charge of Human Rights Affairs in the UPDF has admitted that the aftermath of the chaos in Arua has had a big impact on the army’s image in regards human rights.
The army was put in the spotlight over the arrest and alleged torture of 33 people including Members of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, Kassiano Wadri, Paul Mwiru and Gerard Karuhanga following the violence in which the president’s convoy was alleged stoned.
In their quarterly report about the rule of law in the country, the Uganda Law Society quoting a report by the Parliamentary Adhoc Committee said investigations had found out that a number of people had been tortured by security agencies especially the Special Forces Command.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Brig.Wacha admitted the events had a big impact on the image of the Ugandan army but said something is being done to correct the wrongs.
“It’s true the incidents put the name of the UPDF in bad light and it pains us seeing our officers going astray. These were not institutional actions but for individuals and warrant punishment,”Brig.Wacha said.
There were ugly scenes as the suspects appeared in court limping whereas others had wounds allegedly resulting out of torture by security agencies during and after the arrests.
Meanwhile, protests broke out in various parts of the country over the arrest of legislators in Arua.
In Kampala, brutality was meted out to a number of journalists including James Akena(Reuters), Ronald Ggaliwango, Juma Kiirya(NTV), Joshua Mujunga(NBS TV) and Alfred Ochwo(Observer) who were badly beaten by the army.
Following condemnation of the army, the Chief of Defence Forces for the UPDF Gen.David Muhoozi issued a statement in which he promised to arrest all officers involved in beating journalists.
“Attention has been brought to the leadership of the UPDF about the unprofessional conduct of soldiers who molested some journalists while deployed on a joint operation in the capital city on Monday 20, August 2018. UPDF wishes to express its displeasure over such behaviour by those individuals and as a result, the Chief of Defence Forces has ordered for their arrest and punishment,” read the statement by the army.
However, on Tuesday, members of the Uganda Law Society led by Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa tasked Brig.Wacha to explain why no action has yet been taken against the officers involved in brutalizing journalists.
In response, the UPDF director in charge of human rights said when the report about the incident is released, action will be taken against individual officers involved.
“What happened pains us so much but we are continuing with investigations into what happened as directed by the CDF (Gen.David Muhoozi) and I think by the end of this week, the report will be out,”Brig.Wacha said.
“We have always been proud of ourselves but this incident put in bad light but perpetuators will be arraigned in court.”
President Museveni recently in a response to Kadaga’s letter over torture meted to MPs and civilians by the army recently said that the army is still investigating the alleged torture.
“I would like to advise that we await the outcome of the investigations (into the allegations of wrong doing if any) currently being carried out under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police and refrain from use of the word torture until we establish the full facts of the matter,” Museveni said in his August 31 letter to Kadaga.