This is carried in a statement issued on Monday by the EU Delegation together with the diplomatic missions of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden in Uganda.
“During the recently concluded Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Uganda Human Rights Commission and Several other stakeholders pointed out the persistence in Uganda of torture. They also expressed concern for other human rights violations in Uganda such as the excessive use of force by the police, violations of expression and the media, including harassment, threats, illegal detentions, and violence against journalists and human rights defenders,” reads part of the statement.
The Delegation led by Ambassador, Attilio Pacifici raises concern over a situation that they say has for more than a year seen a significant increase of reports of torture, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, harassment, attacks against human rights defenders, members of the opposition, and environmental rights activists.
According to the EU Delegation, the arbitrary arrest of people by security services, holding them in ungazetted places of detention for prolonged periods of time, torturing them, and not bringing them before a court within the mandatory time limits are violations of Uganda’s national legislation, regional and international commitments as well as specific Presidential guidelines.
“While we note the actions already taken against some perpetrators of human rights violations amongst security forces, the relevant Ugandan authorities should urgently ensure a comprehensive investigation into all the reported abuses, including the events of the 18th and 19th of November 2020. Those who are being held incommunicado should be immediately released or brought before justice and those who violate the laws of Uganda should be held accountable and personally liable for their actions,” further reads the EU statement.
This comes after the Opposition MPs in Parliament last week walked out of the plenary in protest of reported torture of citizens by security operatives, detention without trial, and missing supporters.
Led by Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition, they announced a two-week boycott of Plenary Sittings, questioning the delayed action by the government on reports brought on the floor of parliament regarding the torture of their supporters, missing persons, and arrests without trial.
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 but the responsible Ministers are yet to respond to the different queries by MPs.
Deputy Speaker, Anita Among last week said that she had directed the Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka to address parliament about the reported cases of torture and missing persons.
Earlier, the US Mission in Uganda also issued a statement on 4th February on the recurring accounts of forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture in Uganda.
“Recurring credible accounts of forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and use of physical and mental torture of Ugandan citizens by the security forces reflect poorly on the government and undermine the Constitution of Uganda, which under Article 24 states, “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” reads the US Mission statement.
The Mission urged the government, as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to protect the rights of its citizens and to hold accountable those who violate these rights.
In the past two weeks, several pictures and videos of citizens have been circulating on different media with reported torture by security forces while in detention. The most recent case is that of Novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, the National Unity Platform –NUP Coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies received under detention.