By Jamila Mulindwa
“The NRM government doesn’t condone torture of any kind and individuals should be held accountable,” is how the National Resistance Movement (NRM) women league chairperson Lydia Wanyoto responds to accusations that torture has become institutionalised in Uganda.
She was answering to a human rights report soon to come out by the Human Rights and Peace Center (HURIPEC).
Dr. Zahra Nampeewo, who is the director HURIPEC says their report titled ‘Abuse of Civil and Human Rights in the Face of Hakuna Muchezo’ highlights the many criminal activities namely killings and torture that have been committed against Ugandans since 2016 to date.
“In our research we came across 133 cases of indiscriminate killings carried out by state agencies or individuals,” she says. She adds that some of the individuals who carry out these atrocities against others are sometimes protected by state agencies.
Dr. Nampeewo says the reluctance of the NRM government to bring the perpetrators to book has made the situation worse. She says torture has been institutionalised “Acts are well thoughtout carried out in specific places,” she continues, “Places like Nalufeenya. Everyone knew what used to happen there, in Mbale CPS room 21, everyone who goes there never comes out the same.”
Wanyoto on the other hand says it’s not right to say the government has sat back while many innocent Ugandans are suffering. “Torture isn’t institutionalized,” Wanyoto claims. She assets that, “Government came out on murders last year and said there is going to be a cleanup, cleanup doesn’t take a day.”
Wanyoto says that if instead of blaming the government, individuals who head the different entities should be held accountable “NRM has departments that are headed by individuals. These are the people to answer for the crimes of their departments.”
Dr. Nampeewo says there is a lot to be done instead of leaders simply talking about torture. In recent times are number of victims have come out sighting beatings, torture in some instances even killings by state agencies.
The police has been named number one in many of these cases yet many people who have been employed in the fishing sector have constantly accused the UPDF of brutality.