The alleged torture of the suspects in the attempted murder case of General Katumba Wamala has reignited debate among human rights defenders on the rights of detainees.
The suspects who were paraded before court last week had visible wounds on their bodies allegedly sustained while in police custody.
The suspects include; Kagugube Muhammad, Walusimbi Kamada, Kisambira Siriman Ayuub, Abdulaziz Ramadhan Dunku, Habib Ramadhan Marjan.
Uganda has ratified a number of international instruments against torture and passed a number of legislations against the vice, including the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act. On the contrary, cases of torture have increased.
The Uganda Law Society (ULS), an umbrella body bringing together all legal practitioners in the country has condemned the acts of torture against the suspects.
“ULS is outraged by reports of torture and the state in which police arraigned the suspects in the assassination attempt against General Katumba Wamala before at the Chief Magistrate Court Nakawa on July 8 2021.The suspects are reported to have appeared before the Court with visible injuries and burns on their bodies,” said Pheona Nabasa Wall, President ULS in a statement.
Wall noted that such torturous actions call for re-skilling of the police and all security agencies to enable them move away from the archaic method of police investigations that emphasises confessions rather than obtaining the truth using more scientific methods.
She said torturing suspects is cruel, inhuman, degrading, and unconstitutional and compromises the proper prosecution of cases, according to human right defenders.
Robert Kirenga, human rights defender, explained that under Article 44 of the Constitution there are no circumstances under which a citizen can be subject to torture.
It is also reported that the accused persons through their advocate requested the Court to issue an order to have them taken for proper treatment, an order was denied and they were instead remanded to Kitalya prison, something which violated their rights, according to the human rights defenders.
Wall said that a magistrate court has the power to enforce rights and freedoms as well as the power to hear and determine applications relating to the enforcement or violation of human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Section 7 (2) of the Human Rights (Enforcement) Act 2019 provides that where a human rights matter arises in any proceedings before the Magistrate Court, the Magistrate Court shall immediately stay the proceedings in the main matter and first determine the human rights issue raised. Further remanding these suspects and letting the matter continue in total disregard of the evidential torture, we believe is a further miscarriage of justice,” she said.
Wall stated that this is the foundation of our criminal justice system and all suspects must be looked at from the angle of innocence until the cases are proved against them.
The Uganda Law Society demanded that the perpetrators of the acts of torture particularly by the security officers should be brought to book.
The leader of National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine also condemned the act of torture against suspects adding that the Constitution and other international laws to which Uganda is a signatory condemn torture under any and all circumstances.
Our efforts to speak to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) spokesperson Charles Twiine were futile by press time.