Parliament starts probe into allegations of torture, enforced disappearances

Parliament starts probe into allegations of torture, enforced disappearances

Parliament has today (Thursday), through the committee on human rights, start hearings to investigate allegations of torture and enforced disappearances in the country.

Recently, the National Unity Platform (NUP) and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) parties accused security forces of torturing their members.The two widely reported cases are of NUP’s Kasese district coordinator Masereka and FDC’s Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.NUP claims hundreds of other supporters were tortured and abducted, especially during the general elections.

Security agencies Police and Prisons will present lists of complainants against human rights violations before Parliament’s human rights committee.

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) is also to present its list of complainants according to the committee chairperson, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, West Budama North.

“We want them to present lists of all the human rights abuses that have been reported to them. If you are tortured, you are very likely to report to Police, Human Rights Commission or Prisons, who take you to hospital and you get a medical report,” he said.

The committee is mandated to probe all human rights violations. Odoi said the committee will also investigate human organ trade abroad.

Odoi said once the committee has the comprehensive list, they will start serious investigations. “We should go out to look for those who torture others and send them to prison. They are as bad as those who commit murder,” he said.

After an investigation, Odoi said the perpetrators will be handed over to Police as they give the report.“We will gather evidence and by the time the committee writes a report, we have files ready for the prosecution of that case,” he said, adding that he is a radicle defender of human rights.

The committee solely relies on complaints made to pursue any right violations.“Without anyone coming forward to complain/petition, we can’t proceed with any investigation. It is the complainant that we ask to provide evidence during the committee hearings,” he said.

The committee will also investigate the reports that Rwenzururu Kingdom guards, who were arrested and remanded in 2016 are not getting the required medical care. The issue was referred to them by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, in December last year.Bukonjo County West MP, Atkins Katusabe (Forum for Democratic Change) said: “It would be a sign of indifference if we ignore the fact that people are dying on their prison beds without getting justice.”Members also called for the suspects’ right to a speedy trial to be upheld.

Human rights reportAccording to the 2020 UHRC report, they received 3,283 complaints. A total of 549 were registered as raising from alleged human rights violations according to the commission’s admissibility criteria.The highest number of complainants were from the central region and overall, more males reported as has been the previous years. The highest number of complainants were against the Police (59%) and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (24%).Complaints against UPDF include those against LDUs. The top three alleged violations by security forces were torture, cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment; detention beyond 48 hours, and deprivation of life.Other alleged offenders include Prisons, private individuals, Internal Security Organisation, local governments, Uganda Wildlife Authority, statutory agencies, and RDCs.

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