The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has directed government to pay for damages, one Grace Kyaterekera to a tune of shs6 million over wrongful detention by police in 2003.
“The complaint is allowed and the Attorney General is ordered to pay the complainant a total sum of shs6 million as general damages for the violation of his right to liberty,” the UHRC tribunal headed by the chairperson Mariam Wangadya directed on Monday.
The order follows a complaint by Kyaterekera to the commission over wrongful arrest and detention by police in Kayunga in October 2003 on orders of the then Katwe Division Police Commander in Kampala.
He was detained in Kayunga and later transferred to Kampala where he appeared before the Criminal Investigations Division as then was and then detained at the Central Police Station.
Kyaterekera was released on police bond on November, 8, 2003, having spent a month in police cells without being charged.
The case has never proceeded in any courts of law.
On Monday, a four member panel of the Uganda Human Rights Commission tribunal including Mariam Wangadya, Shifrah Lukwago , Lamex Omara Apita and Stephen Basaliza ruled that it was illegal for police to arrest and detain Kyaterekera for a period beyond the mandatory 48 hours.
They directed the Attorney General that Kyeterekera is paid for damages to a tune of shs6 million for violation of his rights.
The tribunal also directed that the shs6 million will attract an unspecified interest from the date of the ruling until the actual payment is done.
UHRC however asked that whoever is not satisfied with the ruling to appeal in the High Court within 30 days from the day of the decision.
Speaking to Nile Post, Kyaterekera said he will appeal the decision because it is unfair to him.
“I can’t say I am totally satisfied with the directive of the tribunal. I can’t imagine that having been arrested over flimsy charges, detained for over a month and I am given shs6 million in damages 20 years later. I lost money in moving from Kayunga to CID in Kampala to report as the bond requirements but my name was also tarnished and you say shs6million is what I get in damages,”Kyaterekera said.
He said he is returning home to Kayunga to think about the next course of action but said it is high likely that he will appeal against the decision.
“If I have waited for 20 years, I will wait for many other years until I get justice. I am happy the tribunal was able to sit with four commissioners unlike in the past but I am not satisfied with the decision. I will appeal.”
Kyaterekera however called for speedy hearings to ensure justice is served without delay to the victims.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission(UHRC) was established under the 1995 Constitution with powers to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, direct the release of detainees, and award compensation to abuse victims.
Under Article 53 (1) of the Constitution, UHRC has the power of a court to summon or order any person to attend before it and produce any document or record relevant to any investigation by the commission, question any person in respect of any subject matter under its investigation; direct any person to disclose any information within his or her knowledge relevant to any investigation by the commission, and commit persons for contempt of its orders.
According to the constitution, if UHRC is satisfied that there has been a violation of human rights or freedom, it may order for the release of a detained or restricted person, payment of compensation, or any other legal remedy or redress.
The constitution however says that any person or authority dissatisfied with an order made by UHRC has the right to appeal to the High Court.