The Human Rights Committee of Parliament is set to visit all government detention facilities to investigate cases of human rights violations.
Fox Odoi, the Committee Chairperson revealed this on Thursday while meeting with officials from the Uganda Prisons Service, led by the Director of Correctional Services, Samuel Akena who represented the Commissioner General of Prisons.
The committee was recently directed by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among to investigate allegations of torture. Among made the directive during a debate on a statement by the Acting Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Wilson Muruli Mukasa on the alleged human rights violations by state security operatives.
The statement came at a time when the Opposition led by its leader, Mathias Mpuuga announced a two-week boycott of plenary sittings over delayed action and response from the government regarding increasing cases of torture of citizens by security operatives, detention without trial, and missing supporters.
The Opposition has since the 2021 general elections campaigns complained about the abduction of its supporters and torture of those detained. A formal statement on the matter with a list of missing persons was presented to the House for action by the government.
Odoi says that his committee would be visiting all detention facilities to interact with the inmates on whether or not they have experienced any sort of torture from the prisons authorities or other security forces outside the prisons.
This was after Akena informed the committee that the Prisons has not recorded any cases of torture since January 2020. His revelation shocked MPs who wondered whether the torture on inmates is self-inflicted.
However, Akena admitted that whereas there are instances where inmates are brought to prison in an unhealthy condition, it is under their jurisdiction to probe what happened to them.
Akena said they have a zero-tolerance policy on torture of inmates and that any staff or prisoner who is involved in acts of torture is immediately handed over to Police for prosecution. He also denied the allegations that prison authorities partake in the torture of prisoners.
Koboko County MP, James Baba blamed the prison authorities for paying a deaf ear to allegations of torture on prisoners, saying it is within their authority to seek further information on what happened to the inmates before being brought to them.
Odoi also re-echoed 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 who have allegedly been tortured ahead of another scheduled meeting.
The Committee has also given the Uganda Police Force- UPF up to March 9 to respond to allegations of human rights violations by its officers.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Martin Ochola had been summoned to appear before the committee on Thursday but was instead represented by the Director of Human Rights and Legal Services, Erasmus Twahurukwa.
Twahurukwa told MPs that the force was not ready to make a presentation because the invitation was on short notice. He then requested two weeks to enable Uganda Police Force to prepare adequately and make a detailed submission.
Odoi cautioned the Police Force against seeking more time adding that his committee has only 45 days to conduct the investigation and report back to parliament.