The Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala has awarded shs250 million to an Internal Security Organisation Operative who was tortured while in detention.
Simon Peter Odongo, the head of the cyber department at ISO was arrested from his home.
Later, his wife, Caroline Odongo ran to court asking that her husband is produced dead or alive by either the Inspector General of Police or the head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
The respondents through their lawyers asked court for more time to be able to respond to the applications and court granted them two weeks for the same.
On June 2,2020, Justice Micheal Elubu ruled that Simon Peter Odongo be accessed by his doctors to make assessment and give necessary treatment.
In his ruling, the judge explained that in the response, it was indicated that during arrest, Odongo had resisted and as a result, there was a scuffle after which it was later realized he had been injured.
“The respondents filed additional affidavits including one of captain Robert.S. Kandole . This affidavit had medical records attached. One of the attachments is of medical treatment notes made by a doctor Nakayenga who on the 19th of May,2020 in which she stated that Odongo had a gunshot wound on the lower left limb. She also recorded that the wound had retained bullets fragments,” Justice Michael Elubu said.
He added that evidence before court indicated that another examination done on May,21, 2020 found that Odongo had forced catheterisation not on medical grounds.
“He was discharging blood and pus in his urine. According to online sources, catheterisation is the insertion of a tube through the genitalia to the bladder.”
The judge also noted that the doctors had observed that Odongo suffered from post- traumatic stress disorder and overall, he looked sick, anxious and was found to be suicidal..
“It was established that he was diabetic .He was also obese and hypertensive. In his submission, counsel for the applicant said that overall weakness of Odongo was a result of torture.”
He noted that in absence of specific denials by the respondents on the allegation of torture, he was inclined to believe that they had been accepted as being true.
He then ordered that the ISO operative be allowed access by his doctor for assessment and necessary treatment.
In a separate ruling on behalf of Justice Michale Elubu, , the High Court Civil Division Assistant Registrar, Alex Mushabe Karocho ordered for compensation to the ISO operative for being tortured.
“It is hereby ordered the subject of the application; Simon Peter Odongo has suffered infringement of his fundamental right to freedom from torture. His right to freedom was also infringed,” Karocho said on behalf of the judge.
“It is hereby ordered that the respondents pay damages to a sum of shs200 million to Simon Peter Odongo for the violations he has suffered in this case.”
The Assistant Registrar also ordered the respondents including the Attorney General, the Chief of Military Intelligence and the Inspector General of Police to pay shs50 million as damages to Odongo for contempt of court .
The court also ordered that the ISO operative is produced in a competent court within 48 hours and if not done, he should be released unconditionally.
Whereas it is government ordered to pay, the Attorney General recently said the costs will always be going to the specific institution and individuals in question.
This will save government form the burden of paying court costs but will also help reduce cases of torture by security agencies for fear of being held accountable and the heavy costs involved.