By Our Reporter,
Security agencies have been singled out as the leading perpetrators of torture in Uganda besides the increasing number of private individuals across the country.
This was revealed by the African Center for Treatment And Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) in a Tuesday report on the state of torture, response and accountability in Uganda 2023. ACTV is a non-government organization in Uganda with now 30 years of offering rehabilitation to survivors of torture and advocating against torture with a vision of a world free from torture and a mission to advocate against torture, gender-based violence and other forms of violence, and provide holistic care to survivors.Torture remains prevalent in Uganda and requires joint effort between state and non-state actors to address.
The report was carried out in regions of northern, central, eastern, western and Karamoja sub region from January 2021 to December 2023, where 3,199 victims and survivors of torture were reached out whereby in 2021, 1,141 victims were reached, 798 were reached in 2022, and 1,250 were reached in 2023.
In northern region, various districts where more emphasis was put on are Gulu, Amuru, Lira, Apac, Kitgum, Agago, Pader, Oyam, Kwania and Nwoya. In central region districts like Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Mityana, Masaka, Mpigi, Mubende, Gomba, and Kayunga were reached. In eastern region, districts of Jinja, Luuka, Iganga, Kamulia and Mayuge were also reached out whereas in Western region Kasese was reached out and in Karamoja sub region Kaabong was the only district to be reached.
According to the report, Kampala had 394 victims, 287 were male and 107 were female, Gulu had 593, 272 were male and 321 females, Kasese had 28 among which 19 were male and 9 were female, and Karamoja sub region had 235 among which 192 were males and 43 were female. In general, the number of male tortured victims was higher than the number of females in all districts except in Gulu.
During the release of the report, the chief executive officer (CEO) of ACTV, Samuel Herbert Nsubuga attributed the factors leading to torture to punishments, forced confession (disarmament process), rebel atrocities, election violence, gender-based violence, extraction of information, land wrangles, intimidation and sowing fear among others.
As one of the ways to fight against torture, Nsubuga recommends to the parliament to consider prioritizing the enactment of a wittiness protection law and national legal aid bill to mitigate the lived experience of fear among rights holders to report torture and promote accessibility to justice and accountability by relevant institutions respectively.
He adds that the ministry of health should also consider developing rehabilitation standards and indicators for victims and survivors of torture and monitor their utilization across national health facilities since access to justice includes access to timely treatment and rehabilitation.
“There are already engagements taking place between ACTV and the ministry of health especially with the department on rehabilitation and mental health division” Nsubuga said.
Paul also rallied the ministry of foreign affairs to consider ratifying the optional protocol to the convention against torture 2006 to foster prevention through unlimited access to places of dentition which enables early detection of torture and timely intervention.
The head of programs at ACTV Alex Kigoye, says ACTV always work tirelessly to provide treatment, legal aid and holistic rehabilitation at no cost.