Brutal Arrests, Illegal Detention and Torture: A Failed Test for Rule of Law in Uganda

Human rights and rule of law violations have been evidenced in various incidences for instance: arbitrary killings, abductions, alleged torture and arrest, unlawful detention, violation of rights of journalists, censorship of press etc. Such acts are allegedly largely committed by government security agents that brutally arrest and detain suspects in unidentified places and safe houses. Many people have been unlawfully arrested, detained for more than 48hours without trial, and allegedly tortured, and this counteracts the law. Reports have come out pinning several government security agencies (CID, SFC etc) and operatives (police officers, military) on committing atrocities during arresting of suspects (enforcing law and order). Some officers go beyond their geographical jurisdictions while others remain unidentified or hide their names and this stops the tortured from seeking justice. The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act (2012) stipulates that any person convicted of torture is liable to a 15 year’s imprisonment or a fine of sixty currency points or both. Despite the existence of such laws, torture allegedly appears to be escalating in Uganda. This brief recommends that arrests of suspects by security operatives should be executed within the law. There is a need to redefine the role of the Army and Police in order to reduce the militarization by the police (excessive brutality) during arrests. This, combined with other law enforcement reforms, will also restore the reputation and public trust for Uganda’s security personnel.