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10 November 2022
The Committee against Torture today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Uganda, with Committee Experts welcoming the State’s human rights institutions, and raising questions about unauthorised places of detention and inaction in prosecuting several torture cases.
Abderrazak Rouwane, Country Co-Rapporteur for Uganda and Committee Expert, welcomed that Uganda had made significant efforts to develop its institutional framework related to human rights, creating the Standing Human Rights Committee of Parliament and the Directorate of Human Rights and Legal Services within the Uganda Police Force, as well as human rights desks in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the Police Force, and the Air Force.
Mr. Rouwane said that there were reports of the existence and use of unauthorised places of detention in Uganda. In 2019, it was alleged that Internal Security Organization officials arbitrarily detained more than 400 people, including persons accused of spying, collusion and dissent against President Museveni. What measures were in place to prevent unlawful detention in unauthorised places of detention, ensure prosecution of officials involved, and grant access to adequate remedies to victims?
Mr. Rouwane also noted that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had reportedly taken no action to prosecute several cases of torture brought before it, including the alleged torture of an opposition member of Parliament. Did the Police Force effectively document cases of torture? How did the State intend to reinforce awareness-raising, capacity building and training of all criminal justice actors on the Protection and Prohibition of Torture Act and Regulations?
Introducing the report, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, said that the Cabinet Standing Committee on Human Rights was mandated to provide a national response to human rights concerns and periodically report to Parliament on actions taken in regard to human rights, among others. The Government continued to invest in training the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda Prisons Services in human rights, and in adhering to the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act.
Mr. Kiwanuka said that the Government did not run any “safehouses” or ungazetted places of detention. Such places of detention were run by individuals who were not affiliated by the Government. The Government ensured that all detained persons were kept in official detention centres. No one was detained in the prison system without a warrant.
Mr. Kiwanuka denied the assertion that the Department of Public Prosecutor had taken no action on six cases of torture transferred to it. The Department had made decisions on these cases, determining in one case that murder had been committed. The Department had concluded 508 cases involving torture, passed down over 800 convictions, and paid compensation to victims of torture.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Kiwanuka said that the delegation had received the comments made by the Committee in good faith, and would work to address them. The Government of Uganda was committed to preventing all forms of torture, and would work to implement the concluding observations of the Committee.
In closing remarks, Claude Heller, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation for its participation in the dialogue. Mr. Heller expressed hope for continued cooperation between the Committee and the State party, and that the Committee’s concluding observations would bear fruit in Uganda.
The delegation of Uganda consisted of representatives from the Attorney General’s Office; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Uganda People's Defence Forces; Directorate of Public Prosecutions; Commissioner of Prisons; Internal Security Organization; Uganda Police Force; Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Commissioner for Human Rights; and the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, and webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s seventy-fifth session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 15 November at 10 a.m. to consider the sixth periodic report of Australia (CAT/C/AUS/6).
The Committee has before it the second periodic report of Uganda (CAT/C/UGA/2).
Presentation of Report
KIRYOWA KIWANUKA, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, said that the current Government was committed to ending glaring human rights violations and protecting its people from all forms of torture. Uganda was among the first countries to sign and ratify the Convention against Torture in November 1986. The protection against any form of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment was a non-derogable right in the 1995 Constitution.
The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 domesticated the definition of torture in article 1 of the Convention, widening the application of the definition to include private individuals. Uganda was the first country in Africa and second in the world to enact a law against torture. The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Regulations 2017 operationalised the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, providing a complaints procedure against perpetrators of torture. The courts of law in Uganda had awarded compensation to victims of torture, discontinued criminal proceedings on account of torture of suspects, and held perpetrators of torture personally liable and accountable.
The Government had operationalised a Cabinet Standing Committee on Human Rights. The Committee was mandated to provide a national response to human rights concerns, periodically report to Parliament on actions taken in regard to human rights, and advise the Cabinet on measures to redress cases of human rights abuses, among others.
The Government continued to invest in training the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda Prisons Services in human rights, and in adhering to the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act. The Uganda Police Force had also passed a human rights policy to improve its operating framework and strengthen police officers’ observance of human rights.
The Constitution established and mandated the Uganda Human Rights Commission, an independent body that played a key oversight role in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Government offered training to the Commission’s respective bodies on the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission maintained “A” status accreditation by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions for its compliance with the Paris Principles. It had developed an interpretative guide to the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act to facilitate the understanding and use of the Act. Further, the Commission worked to raise awareness about the Act and human rights issues through community dialogues, media engagement and other outreach activities.
The Government had deployed modern equipment and surveillance tools among security agencies to monitor the actions of security personnel. This ensured that no evidence or information was obtained through ill-treatment. The Government had also enacted the Human Rights Enforcement Act, which introduced personal liability for public officers who violated human rights in the course of their duties. This law had contributed to creating a more accountable, human rights-centred public sector.
Uganda was home to over 1.5 million refugees, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and among the top five in the world. The Government continued to fulfil its international obligations to refugees, according to all refugees in Uganda full enjoyment of all human rights guaranteed in the Constitution, except for political participation. This included protection against any form of abuse, violence or ill-treatment.
The police force provided children in conflict with the law with child-friendly justice services, following the Children Diversion Guidelines for Police Officers issued by the Inspector General of the Police. The Guidelines instructed police officers to not detain children who committed petty crimes, instead advising them to issue verbal or written warnings, hold victim and offender family conferencing, and facilitate apologies, reconciliation and restitution. The incarceration of children was only used as a last resort, and children were only incarcerated in children remand homes; 3,585 divertible child-related cases had been registered between July 2020 and June 2021, out of which 2,587 cases had been diverted from the formal judicial proceedings. Magistrates were responsible for handling cases of children, and local councils had been established to try juvenile offenders at the community level.
In closing, Mr. Kiwanuka said that Uganda faced challenges in ensuring the full enjoyment of some human rights. The Government would continue to raise national awareness on human rights. It was proud of the progress that it continued to make in the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people.
Questions by Committee Experts
BAKHTIYAR TUZMUKHAMEDOV, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the Committee regretted that the submission and presentation of Uganda’s report had been delayed. He reminded the State party of their obligation to submit a report every four years.
Mr. Tuzmukhamedov said that Uganda was party to almost all human rights treaties except for the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Did it intend to ratify this Convention? Uganda was not a party to five optional protocols to several core treaties, or to the Protocol to the Charter of the African Court that empowered the Court to receive individual communications. Was Uganda reluctant to recognise the competence of these bodies to receive individual communications? Did it intend to ratify these protocols?
Refugees were often the victims of torture. How was the Refugee Act of 2006 applied, and did Uganda intend to withdraw declarations and reservations it had made upon accession to the Convention on the Status of Refugees?
The Constitution of Uganda explicitly stated that “no person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" in any circumstances, and made that right non-derogable. The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act of 2012 implemented the constitutional prohibition, and encompassed non-premeditated acts of torture and planning to commit acts of torture. It also extended the responsibility for torture beyond public officials to include “persons acting in private capacity”. What did this term imply? The Act provided for a variety of sanctions, including prison terms ranging from two to fifteen years and to life imprisonment, and fines ranging from 3,360,000 Ugandan Shillings to 7,200,000 Ugandan Shillings. What was the average salary of a chief warden of a district prison? The prison terms provided by the Act seemed appropriate. How many cases were brought to courts under the Act and what were their outcomes?
Had courts in Uganda ever cited the Convention? How were judges educated and selected for judicial positions, and how independent and impartial was the process of judicial appointments? What laws were applied by lower-tier courts, of which there were about 56,000? How was Islamic law and traditional justice harmonised with common law?
Did the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda prosecute crimes of torture? What was the composition and qualifications of the Division?
Mr. Tuzmukhamedov cited the 2015 “Behangana and Another v. the Attorney General” case, where public officials were found to have committed acts of ill-treatment against detainees. What actions had the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Inspector General of Police taken in response to the judiciary’s decision? He also cited the 2000 “Kyamanya v. Uganda” case involving caning of a detainee, where the Supreme Court had argued that corporal punishment should be unconstitutional, and had referred the case to the Constitutional Court. Had the Constitutional Court examined the case? Had the matter of corporal punishment been resolved by other means?
The Constitution contained an exception from the right to life on the condition that the death sentence was “passed in a fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction”. The Penal Code of Uganda contained eight sections whereby offenses may or must be punished by death, including treason, offenses against the State, rape, murder, robbery and smuggling. For which of these offenses was the death penalty mandatory? Several crimes under the Anti-Terrorism Act were also punishable by death. Was it true that the death penalty had not been carried out since 2005? Did courts continue to hand down death sentences? In 2003, there were at least 417 persons on death row. How many of these people remained on death row?
What measures had been taken by the State party under the Anti-Terrorism Act? How had anti-terrorism measures affected human rights safeguards in law and in practice? How many persons had been convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act? Did those persons enjoy in practice legal safeguards and remedies? Were there any complaints of non-observance of international standards? The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act made torture an extraditable offense, but there was an exception of non-extradition if a person was likely to be in danger of being subjected to torture. Did Uganda allow for extradition upon receipt of diplomatic assurance that a person being extradited would not be subjected to torture?
It was commendable that the Police Senior Command and Staff College offered a course to senior officers on human rights. Were Uganda’s military and police personnel serving in foreign deployments sensitised to international standards of behaviour? Were these officers made aware of the Convention, as well as other international legal norms on torture?
The report categorically denied the existence of unauthorised places of detention, but the Uganda Human Rights Commission in its 2021 report dedicated a whole chapter to enforced disappearances, and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights had also documented its failed visits to alleged safe houses used for unauthorised detention. Could the delegation respond to this?
ABDERRAZAK ROUWANE, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that Uganda had made significant efforts to develop its institutional framework related to human rights, creating the Standing Human Rights Committee of Parliament and the Directorate of Human Rights and Legal Services within the Uganda Police Force, as well as human rights desks in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the Police Force, and the Air Force. Mr. Rouwane also welcomed efforts aimed at prohibiting, criminalising and preventing torture.
However, the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the African Centre for the Treatment of Torture Victims had reported that torture and ill-treatment continued to be widespread and frequently practiced. The Commission had reported that torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was the most common human rights violation that it had investigated from 2017 to 2021. Security agencies had the highest number of complaints lodged against them, with a substantial increase in 2021 as compared to 2020. The African Centre for Treatment of Torture Victims had registered 1,032 torture allegations in 2021. Victims included activists and politicians who demanded social equality during the pandemic. What follow-up was conducted on the findings of the Human Rights Commission? What measures had been taken to establish a data collection system for alleged cases of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by security forces? How many cases of torture had been brought before courts, and how many perpetrators had been convicted?
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had reportedly taken no action to prosecute several cases of torture brought before it, including the alleged torture of an opposition member of Parliament. This was reportedly due to the non-implementation of the Protection and Prohibition of Torture Regulations of 2017 by respective agencies, including the Uganda Police Force. The Uganda Police Force still used the Penal Code Act Cap 120, recording cases of torture as assault. Access to justice by victims was thereby limited because prosecutors and judges lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute and try cases of torture. This also made data collection on torture almost impossible. Witnesses and victims of torture were reportedly reluctant to report torture violations for fear of reprisals. Mr. Rouwane called on the State to enact the Witness Protection Bill to improve the quality of evidence and increase chances of successful prosecution. He also called for statistics on the time taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate cases of torture. Did the Police Force effectively document cases of torture? How did the State intend to reinforce awareness-raising, capacity building and training of all criminal justice actors on the Protection and Prohibition of Torture Act and Regulations? Was training provided for the police on the Istanbul Protocol?
There were reports that security agencies had failed to respond to at least four habeas corpus applications. How was the right to habeas corpus respected in practice? How many applications had been filed during the reporting period?
There were reports of the existence and use of unauthorised places of detention. In 2019, it was alleged that Internal Security Organization officials arbitrarily detained more than 400 people, including persons accused of spying, collusion and dissent against President Museveni. Reportedly, such persons were denied access to counsel and 33 were subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Security officials frequently ignored court orders to release detainees. What measures were in place to prevent unlawful detention in unauthorised places of detention, ensure prosecution of officials involved in arbitrary detention, appropriately investigate these incidents, and grant access to adequate remedies to victims?
The Human Rights Commission had reported that overcrowding in prisons had resulted in limited access to bedding and sleeping space, poor health care and drug stock shortages in detention facilities. This was exacerbated by the high number of persons in pretrial detention. In December 2021, 34,847 inmates were on remand compared to 32,246 convicted prisoners. There was also a backlog of cases in the court system. Prison warders reportedly used isolation and caning as disciplinary measures. Human rights committees investigated places of detention, but reportedly had limited knowledge and skills regarding human rights violations. Why had the State party not nominated a national preventative mechanism against torture? How many deaths in custody had occurred during the reporting period? What training was provided to health workers and security officers in places of detention? What channels were provided to detainees to report abuses? What plans were in place to improve detention facilities and address court backlogs? How many doctors were working in prisons?
How many women had been sentenced to death and executed? Did the State party intend to implement policies and legislative reforms to protect against all forms of violence suffered by girls and women? Would the State revise legislation to consider homicide committed in self-defence in the context of a violent relationship? Was gender-sensitive training provided to all persons involved in the investigation, representation and prosecution of crimes involving women? Did the State investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of domestic violence and other forms of sexual assault, including marital rape? What legislative reforms were planned to prevent violence against children?
Was the Government planning to create a fund or public policy to ensure timely payment of compensation to all victims of torture and other human rights violations?
Which body was responsible for documenting cases of trafficking of refugees? Were such cases investigated and prosecuted? Was data on such cases collected? What measures were in place to improve the identification and prevention of trafficking in Uganda?
What safeguards were in place to ensure that people were not charged with treason or terrorism-related offenses for expressing opposition to the Government? What measures had been taken to prosecute and punish acts perpetrated as part of “mob justice”; and ensure that persons deprived of liberty had access to an independent doctor and lawyer, and could contact their families?
When did the State party plan to finalise the National Legal Aid Policy and Bill, which guaranteed legal advice and assistance for poor, vulnerable and marginalised persons? What progress had been made in elaborating the National Action Plan on Human Rights? Had civil society and the Human Rights Commission been involved in the process? Did the plan address the prosecution of torture? How would the State party address the concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee?
Another Committee Expert welcomed the 2009 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, which had comprehensive regulations preventing sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The Penal Code stated that any person who engaged in or facilitated prostitution was punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. Did this law also punish victims of enforced prostitution?
One Committee Expert said that in 2021, domestic violence was among the most common crimes. More than 17,000 cases were reported in 2021. What measures were taken to prevent these crimes, investigate them, punish perpetrators, and provide redress to victims?
A Committee Expert said that the creation of the International Crimes Division was an important development in realising Uganda’s international obligations. How had this division performed in practice? What prosecutions had it issued for international crimes? Under the International Criminal Court Act, there was no penalty for crimes of torture. Were there other laws that required persons convicted under this act to be sufficiently sanctioned?
Were there examples of successful prosecutions of commanders for failing to supervise subordinates who committed acts of torture?
Responses by the Delegation
KIRYOWA KIWANUKA, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, apologised for the late submission of the report, and promised to submit future reports in a timely fashion.
The Government was working to increase the number of judges and magistrates in the State. The Constitution was the supreme law of Uganda. All human rights treaties were required to be domesticated into State law. The Convention was not specifically referenced in court cases because Uganda had a domestic law that covered the rights contained within the Convention. The State did recognise the international human rights law to which it was a party, but the Constitution took precedence over international law when the two conflicted.
It was difficult to separate the Human Rights Commission from the Government. The Commission was a part of the Government. However, the Government sometimes disagreed with the Commission’s observations. It held regular discussions with the Commission and cooperated with it.
The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act was used to prosecute certain cases of domestic violence. All persons who did not act in an official capacity were “private individuals” under this Act.
The death penalty was not mandatory for any crimes. Courts had the discretion to implement the death penalty based on the severity of the crime.
The Government did not run any “safehouses” or ungazetted places of detention. Such places of detention were run by individuals who were not affiliated by the Government.
The Government took serious note of reports of failure to provide habeas corpus, and addressed all reports extensively. Some reports were unfounded.
The Government had not extradited any person to places where they were at risk of torture.
There was some congestion in Ugandan prisons, but the Government was working to address the issue. It took all reports of ill-treatment within prisons seriously.
There had been an increase in gender-based violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government was working to prevent gender-based violence and promote the rights of women through training and awareness-raising activities.
Forcing refugees to participate in prostitution was seriously punished, in some cases with the death penalty.
Superior officers were held accountable for allowing subordinate officers to commit acts of torture.
The police and security forces had a limited resource envelope and were responsible for investigating a wide range of offenses. The Government was committed to increasing resources for security organs to improve accountability and appropriately prosecute all offenses.
In response to a question on the independence of the Human Rights Commission, Mr. Kiwanuka said that it, like many State institutions including the judiciary, was independent. The Government allowed the Commission to carry out its work without any interference from the executive body, and to sanction the Government. The Government engaged in constructive dialogue with the Commission on issues of concern.
KIRYOWA KIWANUKA, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, said that the Government had determined that the 1995 Constitution should reference international human rights treaties. The Constitution stated that all international human rights treaties to which Uganda was a party remained in force after the Constitution was enacted. A State should not shirk its obligations to such treaties. Ugandan courts continued to base decisions on international treaties.
The Government was continuing to consider its position on the Optional Protocols to various human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture. The Uganda Human Rights Commission and various other institutions carried out unannounced visits of places of detention.
The Constitution stipulated that no person should be deprived of the right to life except through a sentence passed down by a competent court in a fair trial. The death penalty was no longer mandatory for capital offences, and judicial officers imposed it considering the circumstances of the case. The Supreme Court had ruled that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty was unconstitutional, and that the death penalty should be commuted to life imprisonment if not carried out within three years after sentencing. The Supreme Court reviewed each death sentence, and the President assessed whether to approve each death sentence. Three prisoners who had been sentenced to death prior to 1999 had been immediately released, all death sentences passed down prior to 2006 that had not been carried out had been commuted to life sentences. There were currently 117 men and three women on death row.
All Government institutions were required to comply with the writ of habeas corpus, and were punished if they did not do so. All requests for habeas corpus this year had been responded to, except for one person, whose whereabouts were unknown.
Allegations of illegal detention had been debunked in Parliament. The Government ensured that all detained persons were kept in official detention centres. No one was detained in the prison system without a warrant. The Government planned to increase the number of judges and courts to address the backlog of court cases and persons in pre-trial detention. Six new High Court circuits had recently been opened, and several magistrates had been hired by the State.
There had been an increase in sexual and gender-based violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 5,000 cases were currently under investigation. Revisions had been made to police forms on sexual and gender-based violence cases to collect relevant data and better prosecute those cases. A sexual and gender-based violence department of the Public Prosecutor had been established to provide training to police officers on addressing sexual and gender-based violence cases and produce a handbook on such cases. A national awareness campaign on sexual and gender-based violence had also recently been carried out. Various policies were also in place to empower women, including microfinancing for disadvantaged women. A specialised sexual and gender-based violence court had been established in 2018. Over 2,900 child abuse cases had been reported through a government hotline. The Judicial Studies Institute provided education to members of the judiciary on gender issues. There were cases where courts had decided to downgrade murder charges, considering domestic violence suffered by the perpetrators.
The Government was committed to combatting terrorism. Terrorism was not used as a scapegoat for committing human rights abuses.
All refugee facilities had health and other Government services. The Government ensured equitable, well-coordinated access to health services for refugees. Refugees needed to be treated with compassion.
The Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces were working on a mission to recover arms in Karamoja. This was not a typical operation, as it involved armed civilians. These forces had recovered over 500 arms thus far. A number of officers working on this mission had been tried and convicted for ill-treatment of detainees. Officers sent out on peacekeeping missions were trained on human rights standards.
In March 2020, the Government introduced strategies to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the shutdown of public transport and quarantine measures. Security officers were involved in enforcing these measures. There were some complaints of abusive actions by those officers that had been duly investigated, and persons responsible for abuse were criminally charged. The Government facilitated political participation during the pandemic. It was proud of its progress in preventing the spread of the pandemic. The Government deeply regretted the loss of life occurring at violent riots in September 2020, and was committed to ensuring that victims’ families were appropriately compensated.
The judiciary had disposed of over 50 per cent of cases in its backlog, and planned to dispose of an additional 20,000 cases. The case backlog was at around 50,000 cases as of 2021. This number had been reduced from 2020. A policy to address this backlog was in place. Under this policy, offenders of petty crimes participated in mediation procedures rather than being detained. In 2021, 1,052 detainees had been released from prison, cautioned or sentenced to community service, among other measures.
In 2021, the Human Rights Commission conducted over 600 visits to places of detention. Ugandan prisons had been ranked as the best in Africa in terms of the provision of rehabilitation services. Health care coverage in prisons had been increased over time. Children staying with their mothers in prison were provided with food, clothing and health services. Virtual hearings had been implemented to reduce the need for transfer between facilities and reduce the backlog of cases. Committees were in place that oversaw prison officers’ behaviour and knowledge of human rights. Primary and secondary education was provided for inmates to support inmates’ lives after prison. Legal aid, including legal advice and counselling, had been provided to over 5,000 persons. Over 700 cases involving children had been diverted to community courts.
A draft national action plan on human rights that contained strategies for strengthening protections for human rights had been developed, and deliberations on this plan were ongoing. A draft national action plan on business and human rights had also been developed.
The assertion that six cases of torture had been transferred from the police to the Department of Public Prosecutor and that the Department had taken no action was false. The Department of the Public Prosecutor had made decisions on these cases, determining in one case that murder had been committed. The Department had concluded 508 cases involving torture, and passed down over 800 convictions. The allegation that the Department did not respond to cases of torture was false. The Department handled a wide range of criminal matters, including torture, and had the capacity to do so. The Department also paid compensation to victims of torture.
The civil society reports that the Committee referenced contained facts and statistics that were not verified or substantiated. The Government did not condone torture. It appropriately punished perpetrators and provided compensation to victims.
Questions by Committee Experts
BAKHTIYAR TUZMUKHAMEDOV, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked for more information on whether Uganda intended to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and various Optional Protocols allowing for treaty bodies to receive individual complaints. What was the average salary of a police chief or chief warden? Were Islamic law or other traditional laws applied in certain regions, and how were these laws reconciled with common law? Who were “visiting judges”, and how were they appointed?
How was the Anti-Terrorism Law applied? This law contained punishments that included the death penalty. Were there any other laws that included the death penalty? Had any persons been kept on death row for over three years, the upper limit established by the Supreme Court?
Were there instances where military courts tried civilians? There were 647 members of the United Nations peacekeeping operations who were Ugandan citizens. Were legal advisers sent to educate Ugandan peacekeepers on human rights?
Mr. Tuzmukhamedov said that the committee investigating “safehouses” had claimed that it had been denied access to such facilities, and as such had not been able to assess their condition. Were these claims accurate?
ABDERRAZAK ROUWANE, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the reports that the Committee largely referenced were from the national human rights institute and civil society organizations that the Government worked closely with. The Committee did not rely solely on these reports. It referenced various sources to facilitate the constructive dialogue.
How was form four of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act used? Did the Government plan to revise legislation on violence against children? Did it plan to develop a comprehensive programme for rehabilitating victims?
When there was a conflict between international norms emanating from the international conventions that Uganda had ratified and domestic law, did the supremacy of the international conventions prevail?
What was the content of the draft bill on transitional justice? Such a bill could contribute to combatting torture.
The Ugandan Police report of 2021 had tabled over 500 cases of murder through “mob action”. Mr. Rouwane called for comment on these cases.
Did the Government have a plan for increasing the recruitment of attorneys?
Responses by the Delegation
KIRYOWA KIWANUKA, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, said that the Government was in the process of considering the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Uganda had sufficient mechanisms to provide redress for individual complaints. The population was not necessarily able to access international bodies, but were able to access domestic bodies to lodge complaints. However, the State party was not opposed to the ratification of the Optional Protocols and was considering doing so.
The financial penalty for torture was higher than the average salary for a chief of police or chief prison warden. This penalty was appropriate for deterring acts of torture.
There were 28 offences which attracted the death penalty. These were listed in the Penal Code Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Uganda People’s Defence Force Act. The rules banning the mandatory imposition of the death penalty applied to all these acts.
No person had been kept on death row for more than three years. If the sentence was not executed within three years, it was commuted to life in prison.
In certain circumstances, the Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces and the Uganda Police Forces trained together.
Civilians were still tried in military courts for certain offences that involved illegal firearms. Legal officers were placed in every division of the Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces.
“Visiting justices” were independent justices, often from overseas, who made impartial judgements on cases.
Form four of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act was used to assist the collection of evidence. When a person reported an allegation to the police, the police officer established facts that would inform the investigation using this form. There was a need to continue training on the application of this form and the Act in general. The delegation would investigate the effect of form four on investigations in torture cases.
Training was provided to police officers on the Istanbul Protocol. Corporal punishment was outlawed in Uganda at every level.
International law and treaties did not take precedence over the Ugandan Constitution or the domestic legal system when the two were in conflict.
There were court cases where transitional justice had been used. Uganda’s draft policy on transitional justice needed to be properly consulted with various stakeholders, including the 65 tribes of the State, before the draft law could be ratified.
The issue of mob justice was tied to issues of education and awareness of the judicial system. In the past, mob justice was a common practice in certain areas. In some cases, persons released on bail were perceived to have been acquitted, and this led to mistrust of the judicial system. The Government was working to increase knowledge of and trust in the judicial system.
The Government would work on increasing the number of State attorneys after it had made progress on increasing the number of magistrates.
In response to a follow-up question on whether Uganda was considering withdrawing its reservations to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Mr. Kiwanuka said that he would investigate the State’s reservations, but stated that these had not affected the State’s stance on accepting refugees.
In response to a follow-up question on plans to develop legislation on corporal punishment of children, Mr. Kiwanuka said that the Children’s Act protected children from corporal punishment. There was no need for additional legislation to outlaw corporal punishment. The new Human Trafficking Act punished trafficking of children with death or life imprisonment.
KIRYOWA KIWANUKA, Attorney General of Uganda and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue. The delegation had received the comments made by the Committee in good faith, and would work to address them. The Government of Uganda was committed to preventing all forms of torture, and would work to implement the concluding observations of the Committee.
CLAUDE HELLER, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for its participation in the dialogue. Mr. Heller said that the State party was responsible for meeting its obligations under the Convention. He expressed hope for continued cooperation between the Committee and the State party, and that the Committee’s concluding observations would bear fruit in Uganda.