Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights has tasked Uganda Prisons Services authorities to present to them a list of allegedly tortured inmates in detention facilities across the country.
The demand follows a resolution by the Committee led by their Chairperson Fox Odoi during an interface the Prison officials at Parliament on Thursday.
The committee commenced investigations on alleged incidents of human rights abuses meted against inmates and other citizens by security personnel. It follows a directive by the Deputy Speaker Anita Annet Among on February 8th, 2022.
“This committee is going to visit all detention facilities to interact with the inmates or whether or not they have experienced any sort of torture from the prisons authorities or other security forces outside the prisons,” says Odoi.
Led by Samuel Akena, the Director of Correctional Services, who represented the Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Bwabashaija, the Prisons authorities refuted any involvement in any torture incidents.
“Our mandate is to provide safe custody to the inmates, treat and take good care of those who come with health complications. It is not our concern to find out what happened to them,” Akena told the committee.
According to Akena, whereas there are instances where inmates are taken to detention facilities at times in an unhealthy circumstance, it is under their jurisdiction to probe what happened to them.
However, Koboko County MP James Baba Boliba accused the prison authorities for paying a deaf ear to allegations of torture on prisoners, arguing that it is within their mandate to seek further information on what happened to the inmates before being brought to them.
“When you receive these people, you are supposed to record their condition and in case of torture then you find out,” says Baba. But Fox Odoi reiterated that it is still the responsibility of the prison authorities to investigate cases of torture even if the prisoners were not tortured by the prison warders. He directed Akena to avail the committee with a list of prisoners purportedly tortured ahead of meeting yet to be slated.
Also, the Committee cross examined the authorities of Uganda Police Force, and officials of the Uganda Human Rights Commission –UHRC officials for their alleged failure to take action in the wake of increasing cases of torture and human rights violations by security personnel.
The most recent case of torture in the country involves that that of sarcastic novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija who has fled the country to take refuge in Germany after reportedly suffering torture by for disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
In response, the Opposition led by Mathias Mpuuga boycotted plenary sittings for two-weeks over delayed response from the government regarding increasing cases of torture of citizens in detention without trial.
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