President Yoweri Museveni has written to defence and security chiefs directing them to stop torturing Ugandans.
Here is his full letter:
15th May, 2017
The Chief of Defence Forces
The Inspector General of Police
Director General of Intelligence Services
This is in order to enlighten you about the use of torture on suspected criminals (okutatsya) in the fight against crime.
In our traditional societies, torture was commonly used and it was not only accepted but, actually, encouraged. Hence, the proverbs like: “Akabwa kaiba kaihura omugoongo gwaako” in Runyankore and “Akabwa kabbi, kasasula mugoongo” in Luganda. In both dialects, it means that “a stealing dog pays with its back”, i.e. by being struck with sticks (enkoni, emiggo) on the back.
Traditional ideas, however, had their own mistakes in many instances. That is why, those ideas that are not consonant with logic should be abandoned. To take one example, in many of the African Societies, marriages were arranged by parents for the young couples. The couples had no say in the matter. This was because in the no nonsense traditional society, marriage was a strictly scientific matter designed to produce off-springs that had no emize (hereditary defects physiologically and behavior wise). These would be defects like asthma, epilepsy and behavioural weaknesses like cowardice, greed, spendthrifts (ababagyi) etc. The idea of love among the intended couples never entered the equation. There was okurigyira (to appreciate the beauty of) or okusiima (to appreciate the qualities of). This was, however, by the parents or persons deployed by them.
Today, however, all enlightened people know that the traditional concerns notwithstanding, love among the couple is paramount. It is, therefore, clear that torture in order to extract confessions (okutatsya) has three possible mistakes that may even interfere with the fight against crime. Number one, you may torture the wrong person, somebody who is totally innocent. This is very unfair. Secondly, somebody may admit guilt when he is innocent in order to be spared being tortured. This will make the real criminal escape in order to commit more crimes later. Thirdly, confessions by the criminals are not necessary. Even if the suspects do not admit their guilt, if the investigators do their work well (finger-prints, photo-graphs, DNA tests, eye-witnesses, the use of other scientific methods, the use of dogs etc), the criminals can get convicted.
Therefore, the use of torture is unnecessary and wrong and must not be used again if it was being used as I see some groups claiming in the media. Of course, the criminals are most annoying by using the cowardly but shallow methods of the boda bodas, taking advantage of the large number of vehicles and people in order to commit crime and hide. That, however, should not make us panic and go back to the defective traditional methods of okutatsya. We defeated Lakwena, we defeated Kony who was being heavily supported by external elements, we defeated the ADF that was, again, being heavily supported by foreigners, we defeated the UPA of Teso and disarmed the Karimojong cattle-rustlers by removing 40,000 rifles from them. We cannot fail to cope with cowards using boda bodas to kill people who are peacefully sitting in their cars or walking along the streets. With a little adjustment, we shall avenge the deaths of:
Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, Prosecutor Kagezi, Hajji Daktur Muwaya, Sheik Jowat Madangu, Sheikh Yusuf Ssentamu, Sheik Yunis Sentuga, Hajji Mohammed Sebagala, Tito Okware, Constable Driver Wambewo Godfrey, Cpl Erau Kenneth, No. 1404 SPC Karim Tenywa, No. 54812 PC Babale Muzamiro, Owori John Steven, No. 44957 Cpl Owori Julius, SPC Isiko, Macho Steven, Okumu Ronald, Sheik Rashid Wafula, Major Kiggundu and AIGP Kawesi. Our annoyance with these criminals should not make us opt for defective short-cuts. These are hardened criminals by default who think that by denying they can kill and escape accountability. However, we shall get them using patient means of evidence but not through torture because evidence through torture is not reliable.
Yoweri K. Museveni
P R E S I D EN T
Copy to: H.E. the Vice President
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister
Minister of Internal Affairs
Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs
Minister for the Presidency
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Information, Communication and Technology