The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has directed the Committee on Human Rights to investigate allegations of torture and report back in 45 days.
Among made the directive on Tuesday 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.
Fox Odoi, the Human Rights Committee Chairperson said that the committee would begin on Thursday to inquire into the state of human rights and abuses in Uganda and shall file a comprehensive report.
“It is difficult for us to make conclusions on allegations, we must always investigate, we must always speak from a very informed position. Identify the victims, identify the culprits and make recommendations,” said Odoi.
In his statement to Parliament, Minister Muruli Mukasa said that the Minister of Security received a list of names tabled by the Opposition with no other particulars and that it was given to the police and each matter is being investigated separately.
His statement comes 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.
“Government does not know and doesn’t intend to know the political inclination of all the suspects in custody.
Nobody is above the law and any attempt to politicize the handling of offenders would be in breach of the spirit of the constitution and the impartial administration of justice. It would also promote impunity.
Those suspects the Hon Members of the opposition claim to speak for and indeed all the suspects in custody are entreated to have recourse to the remedies provided for in our laws in pursuing the management and conclusion of their cases,” reads part of Minister Muruli’s statement.
He added that all the persons in the custody of the government agencies can and will be accounted for in accordance with the law.
Among said that government needs to handle the matter seriously and that security agencies need to build confidence in the public.
Muhammad Nsereko, the Kampala Central MP acknowledged that every after an election cycle, the country witnesses spates of torture meted against Ugandans.
He said that even Members of Parliament like Mityana Municipality MP have been tortured and the court awarded him compensation.
John Teira, the Bugabula North MP said that the image of the government, President Yoweri Museveni and that of the country is at stake because of cases of torture that keep coming up every day.
“The honourable Minister has presented a report and in my opinion, attempted to politicize the issue. I entirely disagree with you. Every day, we see non-uniformed men brutally arresting people on the streets and this information finds its way on the social media platforms and it embarrasses us,” said Teira.
He added that such acts violate the Constitution and the Parliament needs to come out strongly on particular individuals that torture Ugandans.
Among shared the same sentiment with MP Teira saying that Chapter Four of the Constitution is very clear regarding human rights.
“As the Member said, honourable Members, we have a very beautiful Constitution, when you look at Chapter Four of the Constitution, and you look at what our operatives are doing…we feel ashamed. We even wonder whether we should continue having Chapter Four of the Constitution,” said Among.
Silas Aogon, Kumi Municipality MP questioned what the government was doing to ensure that the cases of torture and brutality stopped. He said that Parliament must speak out and ensure that Chapter Four of the Constitution is respected and those responsible for torture acts are held accountable.
Mukasa said that he had noted the anguish and concern of members regarding the behaviour of errant security operatives.
He also welcomed the investigation by the Human Rights Committee saying that he was sure that a lot could be unearthed.
The Minister assured Parliament that there is a will from the government to fight torture.
The Deputy Speaker emphasized that the errant security officers responsible for torture and other abuses must be brought to book.