The Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has revealed that courts of law will no longer hear cases against tortured suspects but rather dismiss them.
Security agents have always been accused of torturing suspects in a bid to force confessions out of them.
Speaking during the launch of the 2018 annual report for the Uganda Human Rights Commission at Golf Course hotel in Kampala on Friday, Bamwine said in a bid to enforce observance of human rights, courts right from magistrates’ level will no longer entertain cases where suspects have been tortured in any way.
“I want to give the people of Uganda hope that whenever in any criminal proceeding it appears to a judge or magistrate or it is brought to their attention that the suspect was tortured, the judges will declare the trial a nullity,”Bamwine said.
“That person (suspect) will now be free to get acquittal. This will ensure there will be no derogation of enjoyment of freedom from torture and other human rights.”
The Principal Judge however urged lawyers to always point out to magistrates and judges in case of any violation of the rights for their clients(suspects) to ensure they get justice .
“Any violation of the suspects’ rights should be reported to judges to ensure they(suspects) are compensated.”
The 2018 report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission indicated that despite not being so many, torture cases were witnessed, including where it was meted out to Kyadondo East legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi, Mityana Municipality’s Francis Zaake and others during the Arua Municipality by-election.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission chairperson, Medi Kaggwa said the body has tried to meet with various heads of security agencies to speak to them against torture of suspects.
He said the negotiations have led to reduced torture cases around the country.
President Museveni has on several occasions written to heads of security agencies warning them against torture of suspects.
In his letter to the Chief of Defence Forces, Inspector General of Police and Directors General of Internal Security and External Security organisations in 2017, the President warned that there are new methods of getting confessions from suspects, other than torturing them.
““The use of torture is unnecessary and wrong and must not be used again. You may torture the wrong person, somebody who is totally innocent. This is very unfair. Or somebody may admit guilt when he is innocent in order to be spared being tortured. This will make the real criminal escape in order to commit more crimes later,”Museveni said.
“Confessions by the criminals are not necessary. Even if the suspects do not admit their guilt, if the investigators do their work well (finger-prints, photo-graphs, DNA tests, eye-witnesses, the use of other scientific methods, the use of dogs etc), the criminals can get convicted.”
In 2017, a group of 22 people suspected of having masterminded the gruesome murders of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi told the Nakawa magistrates Court that they had been tortured while in detention at Nalufenya.
They showed rotting fingers whereas others were limping.
The same year, photos showing nasty wounds of another suspect in the murder of AIGP Kaweesi, also Kamwenge mayor, Geoffrey Byamukama went viral on social media.
Last year, a group of people accused of masterminding the kidnap and murder of Susan Magara accused security agencies of torturing them while in detention.