Limited Evidence Affecting Justice For Torture Victims

Hussein Nasulu Ntalo, the Deputy Registrar of the Gulu High Court Circuit says most torture cases referred to court are dismissed because there is no strong evidence documented.
Hussein Nasulu Ntalo, Deputy Registrar Gulu High Court Circuit addressing stakeholders at a dialogue meeting in Gulu City on Tuesday

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Victims of torture are failing to get justice due to a lack of documented evidence presented before the courts of law.

Hussein Nasulu Ntalo, the Deputy Registrar of the Gulu High Court Circuit says most torture cases referred to court are dismissed because there is no strong evidence.

Although he didn’t provide exact statistics on the cases of torture that the High Court in Gulu receives, Ntalo says the majority of the victims don’t get justice because there is no tangible evidence connecting their allegations.

//cue in: “There is a…

Cue out:… no enough evidence.”//

Speaking at a dialogue to celebrate the International Anti-Torture day in Gulu City on Tuesday, Ntalo says torture cases are on the rise in the region and called for concerted efforts of all stakeholders to curb it.

Annually, every June 26, the world commemorates the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which came into effect following a resolution passed by the United Nations on December 12, 1997.

Ntalo however says some of the torture cases reported are not followed up by the victims making it impossible for the court to handle such cases.

//cue in: “There are many…

Cue out:…in fair way.”//

Pasipau Chirwa, Team Leader Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Gulu says Documentation is important in establishing facts that are used in courts to promote accountability.

She says it is thus important to establish a clear guideline on how torture cases can be documented to ensure that there is effective prosecution of such cases.

//cue in: “documentation is therefore…

Cue out:…of such cases.”//

Chirwa however notes that whereas Uganda has good legislation and policies prohibiting torture, the vice has continued to prevail adding that there is a need to carry out more investigation to understand the rising trend.

The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012 (Act 3 of 2012) provide that no person shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

//cue in: “legislation is in…

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According to the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture (ACTV) a total of 4,528 torture survivors were registered and offered rehabilitation and counseling services between 2015 and 2018.

The organization also according to its report has been recording more than 1,000 cases of torture across the country annually.

Jacob Olweny, 43, a medical worker in Kitgum Municipality is among some of the torture victims who are yet to get justice following an assault by Local Defence Unit-LDU personnel during the Covid-19 lockdown in July 2020.

Olweny says he was hit on the head with a gun butt and kicked several times by LDU soldiers while heading to work at night despite showing his identification and clearance letter as an essential worker.

//cue in: “It was around…

Cue out…torn by them.”//

He notes that he spent two months nursing his injuries at St Joseph’s Hospital in Kitgum but was later terminated by his employer on account of ill health. According to Olweny, although he had reported the matter to the Police in Kitgum, he was referred to the Office of the Resident District Commissioner where the case has since been buried.

//cue in: “when I reported…

Cue out:…file is there.”//

Evans Vuata Onigo, the Head of the Professional Standard Unit (PSU) in the Aswa River Region admitted that the level of discipline in the Police force declined below standard making investigations a hurdle.

He notes that some of the detectives record cases that are full of errors leading to the arrest of wrong suspects who are later apprehended and tortured in Police cells or prison facilities.

//cue in: “sometimes in my…

Cue out:…go to prisons.”//

Uganda ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on June 26, 1987.

The country has however continued to witness grave torture cases over the years mostly involving security agencies targeting critics of the government.

The Parliament Committee on Human Rights in August 2019 opened an investigation into allegations that Internal Security Organization (ISO) officials had abducted and illegally detained more than 400 people in safe houses on an island in Kalangala.

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