The latest report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission for the year 2021 has named the UPDF and police as the biggest violators of human rights in the country.
Established under Article 51 of the Constitution, the Uganda Human Rights Commission(UHRC) is a government body mandated to monitor and advance human rights in Uganda.
In its 24th annual report on the state of human rights and freedoms in the country in the year 2021, a total of 354 human rights violation complaints were filed against police whereas 135 were filed against the UPDF.
“There was a 13% increase in the number of complaints registered against police from 308 in 2020 to 354 in 2021. The highest number of complaints against police was registered at Hoima regional office at 83 cases, Soroti regional office with 81 cases. The highest number of complaints against the UPDF was registered at the Moroto regional office with 39 complaints followed by the central regional office with 33 complaints,” the report released on Monday indicated.
According to the report, private individuals came third in the categories of people involved in violation of human rights followed by Uganda Prisons Service, Uganda Wildlife Authority and local governments respectively.
Nature of violations
The report indicated that the highest number of complaints registered against police involved the violation of the right to personal liberty with 200 complaints followed by the alleged violation of the right to freedom from torture with 107 complaints against the law enforcement body.
On the other side, the report indicated that the highest number of complaints reported against the UPDF involved the violation of the right to freedom from torture with 80 cases followed by the violation of the right to persona liberty.
Overall, the report indicated that torture or cruel or inhuman degrading treatment and punishment was the biggest nature of human rights violation registered by the government body in 2021.
This was followed by deprivation of personal liberty, denial of child maintenance, deprivation of life, deprivation of property, deprivation of security, forced disappearance and denial of right to fair hearing among others.
Commenting about the report, the UHRC chairperson, Mariam Wangadya said cases against police could have gone up due to the 2021 general election that saw cases of violence go up generally in the country.
“Whenever there is election period, the number of crimes also goes up in relations to election. Also Covid is to blame for the increase in the number of cases registered,” Wangadya told journalists.
“As a commission we reiterate our commitment to protecting and promoting human rights for all Ugandans. The rights of all Ugandans matter to us, including those of suspects of crime but I hasten to add that rights of victims of crime are equally important. It is therefore my call to us all to encourage a culture of tolerance and respect for all, even those we may not agree with.”
Commenting about the report, Maj Gen Henry Matsiko, the Chief Political Commissar of the UPDF defended security forces saying they have always tried to improve their record in terms of human rights violations.
“We are not angels but human beings who are operating on earth and not in heaven. As the UPDF, we are champions of human rights because it is the background of liberation. We can’t be the same force perpetuating violation,”Maj Gen Matsiko said.
He noted that the Police and UPDF leaderships are always working closely with the commission to reduce cases of human rights violation among the forces.
Both police and UPDF and police are working closely with commission to reduce cases of human rights violation.
“The commission chairperson was very clear that most time they receive complaints, by the time they go to crosscheck, they find the UPDF and Police leaderships have taken steps to apprehend errant officers and men and taken appropriate measures to punish the offenders.”
“Our code of conduct is clear and prohibits anything to do with offending the rights of the people. We are not allowed to abuse, provoke, insult or beat the civilians. We are popularizing this code. We have taken part in compensation of victims of human rights violations.”