By Walusimbi Ronnie
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights 1948, stipulates the fundamental freedoms of all men and wowen regardless of their color, creed, religion and ethnicity bas one of the cardinal inalienable rights. However, it is absurd that in most countries especially those in the Third World catagory, that Declaration is observed more in breach than respect.
Whether one is a prisoner or detained on suspicion of commiting a crime the suspect does still have his or her basic rights which should not be abused by the authorities by way of subjecting them to gross torture as happens in some of Uganda's prisons.
The narrations of terrorism or treason suspects who were recently picked up by the security agents from various locations in Kampala read like horror novels. Among the latest victims of alleged tortures while in custody is Lusse Joseph and his nephew Richard Nyanzi.
Lusse is a prominent business man who faces charges of treason. When he appeared in court for mention of his casemonday at Buganda Road Grade One Magestrate, Margaret Tibulya, he told he:"I have been kept in different places which I do not remember or know under terrible forms of torture. Your Honor I ask for a medical check up and treatment as my health has deteriorated very much."
Lusse's Nephew Richard in an interview with Third World Media News Agency also alleged that he was subjected to beatings and electrocutions with metallic wires untill he lost his senses. There is also Faisal Sulaiman Buyonda and Twaha Kakande who the Rubaga North MP wasswa Lule showed to the Presss recently at the Parliamentary buildings alleging torture. The victims said they were subjected to ghastly torure that included electic shocks to their genitals and injections with suspect liquids.
There is also the existance of ungazetted places which government is calling "Safe Houses' to protect suspects from harrassment from fellow prisoners. TAhses strings of events will not augure weel for the government image especially since human riths are universal. Although torture is the instrument of security agents everywhere in the world to extract vital information from otherwise sturborn suspects who refuse to reveal data during interogation, it still conflicts with the rights of suspects as espoused in the different human rights convetions to which Uganda is a signatory.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Major Tom Butime under whom all security organs fall should come in on this one to save the government's image. However President Museveni has consistently emphasised the requirement of treating suspects in strict conformity with the provisions of the constitution. During a press conference at his residence in Nakasero last week wednesday, commenting on the mistreatment of suspects he conceded that there are safe houses where some suspects are confined because of the insuficient space in police cells.
The International Humna rights body, Amnesty Interrnational (AI) in London, United Kingdom could be already writing dossiers on this issue. Legal grounds for arressts is no licence for violating the constitutional rights of suspects. The Chairperson of The Uganda Human Rights Commission, Margaret Ssekagya need also to come out with a statement on these events.
Her Commission is resposnsible to the respect of rights of all Ugandan citizens with out discrimination. On Tuesday in the House, MPs, attacked the Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Martin Aliker. He however said that acts of toture were not government's policy.
It would help redress victims of these alleged tortures whose offenses are sometimes dropped after no guilty verdicts by the courts of law. If a Commission of Inquiry is set up by government to investigate these allegations instead of government paying lip service to them. The government has the financial muscle to fund such an inquiry for the sake of the Uganda citizens affected.