Uganda tortured 45,000 inmates in packed prisons-report

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The latest US Department of State Report on Human Rights Violations in Uganda in 2015 claims the country incarcerated more than 45,000 persons in a prison of maximum inmate capacity of 19,000 persons.

On September 30, Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) spokesperson Frank Baine allegedly said a system with a maximum inmate capacity of 19,000 incarcerated more than 45,000 persons.

“Prison conditions remained poor and, in some cases, life threatening. Serious problems included long periods of pre-trial custody, overcrowding, inadequate food, and understaffing,” reads the report.

Local human rights groups, including the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI), received reports security forces and prison wardens tortured inmates, particularly in government prisons, military facilities, and unregistered detention centers.

“Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, security forces often arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, including opposition leaders, politicians, activists, demonstrators, and journalists.”

The report says impunity was a problem and trials of security forces officers accused of using excessive force were frequently delayed due to weaknesses in investigative mechanisms, and some cases were not investigated or brought to trial.


“…Arbitrary arrests during police sweeps remained a problem, as were arbitrary arrests allegedly based on preventive action, suspicion of treason, disobeying lawful orders, and incitement of violence charges.”

The report cited three most serious human rights problems in the country as: lack of respect for the integrity of the person (unlawful killings, torture, and other abuse of suspects and detainees); restrictions on civil liberties (freedoms of assembly, expression, the media, and association); and violence and discrimination against marginalised groups, such as women (sexual and gender-based violence), children (sexual abuse and ritual killing), persons with disabilities, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community.

Other human rights problems included harsh prison conditions, arbitrary and politically motivated arrest and detention, lengthy pre-trial detention, restrictions on the right to a fair trial, official corruption, societal or mob violence, trafficking in persons, and child labour.”

The constitution and law prohibit such practices. The 2012 Anti-torture Bill stipulates any person convicted of an act of torture may be subject to 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 7.2 million shillings ($1,970), or both.

The penalty for conviction of aggravated torture is life imprisonment.

“There were credible reports security forces tortured and beat suspects.”

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and international and local human rights organisations reported incidents of torture by security forces, including rape, severe beating, and kicking.

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