Uganda police top human rights violator: Report

By Halima Athumani, Saturday, April 12, 2014

KAMPALA – A report by Uganda's Human Rights Commission has showed that police was the number one violator of human rights in the East African country in 2013.

"Violations mostly occur during pre-trial detention, interrogation and arrest of suspected offenders," commission chairperson Meddie Kaggwa told Anadolu Agency.

Kaggwa said that a total of 265 cases human rights violations were registered against the police in 2013.

According to the report, allegations of detentions beyond the 48-hour pre-trial detention constituted 33.8 percent of the total violations committed by the police.

The report also cited 295 cases of the deprivation of personal liberty in 2013, a 26.6 percent increase from the previous year.

The report, however, showed a drop in the number of complaints of torture and ill-treatment from 303 in 2012 to 273 in 2013.

"Most detention occurred due to police's failure to release suspects on police bond either intentionally or for fear that suspects could pose a significant risk to the community,"Kaggwa said.

He also blamed the delay in releasing detainees for police fear that suspects may commit a crime again or fail to appear before court if not kept in custody.

He, however, said that "The continued detention of suspects beyond 48 hours is partly attributed to internal challenges faced by the police force."

Kaggwa cited some challenges facing efforts to release suspects within the 48-hour period, including limited facilitation to transport suspects to court, lack of modern investigation techniques and insufficient human, technical and logistical resources.

"This creates congestion in some cells and also creates a challenge with regard to suspects accessing food and water as well as hygiene and sanitation," he said.

The report also registered 36 complaints of torture against the Uganda People's Defense Forces.

According to the report, some civilians suspected of treason and terrorism were detained in UPDF facilities, including the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and the Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT), which are not gazetted detention facilities for civilians.

But Assistant Inspector General of Police Edward Ochom downplayed the report.

"I think we have done well," he told AA, going on to argue that "because you are looking at the report, it may mention number one fine, you can be number one when you have 96 and the next time you have 58%."

Ochom, who is also the director for research, planning and development in the police force, said that complaints of rights violations are being dealt with "in the institution."

He voiced hope that "the next report may not have the figures that it has now."

Ochom said that there are some complicated cases such as terrorism, citing the 2010 bombings in Kampala, in which suspects from Kenya and Tanzania were involved.

"So you can see the extent of the investigation and if you are to detain somebody you wouldn't expect that within the 48 hours you would get away with the investigations, but it doesn't apply to all cases," he said.

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