The High Court in Mukono has ordered that 12 people who were illegally arrested and tortured for participating in protests in 2017 be paid shs30 million each.
A group of 12 people dragged government and individual police officers to court over their roles in their arrest and torture.
In the first suit, Abel Mucunguzi, Johan Agaba, Edris Mutebi, Jackson Ssemwanga, Eria Musoke, Ferdinand Luta, Eddy Atwiine, Bashir Mubiru, Ronald Muwonge and Galasi Mushizimana who were arrested on September 18, 2017, during protests against the age limit amendment sued government , Brian Nyehangane, the then Officer in Charge of Naggalama Police Division and Alfred Ndugtse who commanded their arrest.
In the second suit, two women including Aisha Ampiire and Sadati Nansubuga who were arrested for protesting the arrest of their husbands in the murder of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi dragged government, AIGP Asan Kasingye, SSP Emilian Kayima,Sarah Nankwanga Sharifah and other police officers from Naggalama to court over illegal detention.
In her judgment read by the court registrar, Justice Margret Mutonyi said evidence indicated the 12 people had been unlawfully arrested and detained by police.
“From the evidence above, there is no doubt that the applicants were arrested and detained under police custody. The respondents don’t deny the fact. The applicants were entitled to security by police during the lawful demonstration because no evidence was adduced by the respondents that the applicants were violent, unruly or disruptive of normal business in the city or that they infringed on the rights of others,” Justice Mutoni ruled.
According to the judge, there was no reason justifying the arrest of the 12 people by police and later detention.
In their suit, the 12 people told court that they had been detained beyond the mandatory 48 hours at Naggalama Police Station.
The judge ruled that this was illegal and should not have happened.
“There was no justification for keeping them under custody for more than 48 hours without arraigning them before a competent court of law and neither was there justification for not releasing them on police bond. The police didn’t adduce evidence to the effect that the applicants were dangerous protestors who were armed.”
According to the judge, the 12 people had a right to express their opinion by protesting.
“Their(police) duties and responsibilities are to provide security for the demonstrators to ensure they are peacefully and without arm exercise their right to freedom, movement, conscience, assembly and association protected under article 29 of the Constitution.”
“In case any individual who has been allowed to demonstrate breaches the peace and is found armed or turns violent and destroys property or injures others, that is when such an individual can be apprehended and arrested by police that is providing security for protesters,” the judge ruled.
The judge ruled that it was evident that Aisha Ampiire and Sadati Nansubuga were tortured after their arrest.
“The torturous acts committed by the police officers were done in police stations were the applicants were under custody. It is the responsibility of the state to recruit and train police officers on human rights,” she ruled.
The judge ordered that each of the 12 people is compensated to a tune of sh30 million for the illegal arrest, detention and torture by police.
The judge also directed ASP Brian Nyehangane, who was the then Officer in Charge of Naggalama Police Division to pay Shs 1 million to each of the applicants for arresting and detaining them beyond the mandatory 48 hours.
Alfred Ndungutse who ordered the arrest of the group was also ordered to pay shs1 million to each of them for violating their right to demonstrate.
Detective Constable Sarah Nankwanga attached to Nagalama Police Station was also directed to pay Aisha Ampiire Shs 5 million as a punishment for blindfolding her.