Assessing the implementation of the convention against torture in decentralised administration in Uganda: a case study of Gulu District
Okema, Lazech Santo
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The study sought to assess and describe the challenges met in the implementation of the convention against torture (CAT) in terms of promotion and protection of Human Rights, in particular achieving freedom from the act of torture cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. To that end the study focused on establishing factors responsible for the occurrence and persistence of torture in decentralized administration. It examined the legal framework in place to address the crime of torture, assessed the strength and weakness of Local Administration, Law enforcement institutions vis a vis the criminal justice system available to victims of torture. The study was carried out in the former Gulu District when Amuru District was not yet curved out of it. The district had experienced the most atrocious conditions in the period of study aggravated by the twenty years Kony’s war. Over 90% of the cases reported on torture to Uganda Human Rights Commission in Northern Uganda came form Gulu District. Interviews were conducted with individual members of the Local Administration Police and Prisons, Local leaders and torture victims and documents relevant to this research were consulted. The research found that law prohibiting torture was not in place, although the constitution of Uganda (1995), Articles 24, 44 addressed the issue of torture but there was no description / definition of torture in Ugandan law, thus no explicit penalty for the offence was prescribed by the law. The majority of people were ignorant of their rights and especially the rights to freedom from torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Law enforcement institutions were ill-equipped to address the escalation of the act of torture. The study revealed that the rights to freedom form torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was massively violated by law enforcement institutions and to a lesser extend abused by private individuals. It was exposed that Uganda lack fully trained law enforcement personnel. The Local Administration Police (LAP) did not have the capacity to carry investigation and adduce evidence before arrests were carried out. The study revealed many suspects were detained for more than 48 hours thus breaching their rights to liberty (Article 23) of the constitution of Uganda (1995). It was suggested that in order to protect the police and prisons against committing torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, torture should be defined in Ugandan Law. The constitutional provision against torture should be made operational by enacting enabling law that could punish the offence. More resources should be allocated at Law enforcement officers training, maintenance and supervision. The Uganda Human Rights Commission be fully supported or facilitated to carry mass sensitization of the people about their rights and duties to enable victims of violation of human rights report cases of violations and seek reparation.