Rt. Hon Speaker, on the 1 7th May, 201 7 the House instructed the committee on Human Rights Committee to go immediately to Nalufenya Police Station/Detention facility and investigate the alleged gruesome torture of suspects there.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Committee was briefed on this assignment by the Chairperson of the Committee on 1 8th May, 201 7 in the members Lounge around midday and furnished the members of the committee with the terms Of Reference.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the terms of reference of the Committee to guide the committee’s work were as follows:
l . Establish the legal status of Nalufenya Police facility especially in regard to the detention of suspects or persons.
- Visit the cells/detention facilities and assess the condition of the suspects/persons detained there.
- Inquire from the detained suspects/persons about the allegations of torture by police officers or other persons at the facility.
- Inquire from the police officers/persons in charge of the facility about the allegations of torture of suspects/persons.
- Generally, establish the authenticity or veracity of the allegations of gruesome torture of suspects/persons detained at the Nalufenya police station/detention facility.
- Report back to the house on Tuesday 23rd May 2017.
Rt. Hon Speaker, much as I and some committee members agree with some of the issues raised by the committee in the main report, the report of the committee felt short of some facts and observations.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the recommendations lack the actions that citizens who are victims of torture, potential candidates for torture in the hands of the police would want this August House to address.
1.0: LEGAL STATUS OF NALUFENYA.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Committee had two meetings with the Police Spokesman AIGP, Asan Kasinge and 4 other staff who claim to be the Managers of the detention facility Police station/ detention Centre and there were a lot of inconsistency in explaining the legality of the place and the following were the explanations;
(a) It is not a police detention place but a sensitive security Institution/installation.
(b) It is a Special Police Operation Place with special duties.
(c) It is a Gazetted Police Station for over 1 5 years in operation.
The officers pulled a document which is a circular written on 14th April 2015 which they claimed brought in place the operation of the station and the document was written by Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police and the circular called Nalufenya a Special Police Operation Base but does not bring out the legal status of the station but gives their duties as follows;
Physically hunt for the criminals.
Detention of suspects.
Interrogations of suspects and
Preparation of files for prosecution.
Rt Hon Speaker, the circular also removed Nalufenya from its original status of being a Police station as I quote from the letter written by the IGP,
“ACCORDINGLY. IMM MAKE ALL INFRUSTRUCTURAL, LOGISTICAL, RESIDENTIAL (INCLUDING EVACUTION AND RELOCATION OF CURRENT OFFICES/ RESIDENTS OF THE STATION AND BARRACKS), AND SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS TO ENSURE THAT THE BASE IS MADE SUITABLE FOR THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED”.
Rt Hon Speaker, when the committee inquired what makes the place “SPECIAL”, the police officers explained that the kind of suspects that they handle and they are high profile cases. They also went on to explain that their operation is also special because they have highly trained investigation team that works jointly with ISO, CMI, ESO and JAT.
The Committee went ahead to inquire about the methods of investigation done by the highly trained investigation team and they explained that they use, phone tracking, forensic investigation and that some of the methods can’t be disclose to the committee because they are highly sensitive.
2.0 CONDITION OF THE DETENTION FACILITY [FACILITIES:
Rt Hon Speaker, the detention facility we visited was seen to be prepared for our visit because the compound which was really busy was just slashed in preparation for our visit, the cells and every surrounding was cleaned and prepared for our visit.
Rt Hon Speaker, we visited four rooms that the officers claimed are the detention rooms. However, the officer at the counter claimed that they have 5 rooms for detention. We also visited a separate room where the Mayor of Kamwenge town council, Mr Geoffrey Byamukama is detained alone in a place that the officers claimed is the area for staff quarter. Some committee members entered a few staff houses but we couldn’t enter all the rooms due to limited time.
Rt Hon Speaker, the bed where the Mayor is detained looks some 4 X 6 feet bed just bought and prepared for the visit of the committee and even the way the mattresses and the beddings in the other 4 rooms where the other suspects were detained look something prepared for the visit of the committee.
2.2: CONDITION OF SUSPECTS DETAINED IN THE CELLS.
RT Hon Speaker, the suspects that we found in the cells were 21 in number according to the report by the police. They were 20 men and one woman, we talked to the suspects and they appear to be those selected for our visit. The suspect had no wounds and no trace of any torture. They appeared frightened and fearful and couldn’t tell us anything but merely that we are not tortured and that we are treated well.
2.3: INTERACTION WITH THE MAYOR MR GEOFFREY BYAMUKAMA.
Rt. Hon Speaker the committee had a meeting with Mayor of Kamwenge town council and he narrated how he was arrested from the office of the Commissioner Land on 6th April 201 7, tortured and finally taken to Nalufenya where he is being detained up to now without being taken to court.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the committee heard from the Mayor that after his arrest, one suspect called Hassan narrated that he was over tortured and just said every phone number in his phone are the people he coordinated with to kill the late AIGP Kawessi.
According to the Mr Byamukama, he was tortured from the van and he couldn’t recall the people who tortured him but their names were known to the Police commanders.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Mayor of Kamwenge town Council might walk after six months or one year as per the assurance that the Dr at Nakasero Hospital told him.
2.4: INTERACTION WITH SUSPECTS DETAINED FOR TORTURE.
The committee then interacted with the two arresting officers (ASP Patrick and ASP Fred Tumuhirwa) and the drivers (Ben Odeke and Ronald Habibu) who gave a contrary report as follows:
They informed the committee that they arrested the mayor through phone tracking, put him in the van and drove to Nalufenya. At Nalufenya, the mayor was in perfect shape without any bruise or scratch on his body. This can be proven by CCTV cameras at the reception that show the mayor walking without any support.
The two arresting officers claimed that after two days, the Mayor was arraigned in Old Kampala Police station when he was walking and in good healthy conditions.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, they claimed that after 3 days, when they reported back to Nalufenya for other duties, they found the Mayor on wheel chair being taken to Jinja Hospital and the belief that mayor was tortured from Nalufenya.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, this could explain reasons as to why the 2 senior police offices were never arrested but just left free in Jinja town with no Police Officer(s) guarding them.
2.5: TORTURE OF SUSPECTS:
Rt Hon Speaker, the evidence from the police officers who talked to us at the inception meeting was that the suspects when already tortured by the arresting officers but they couldn’t present even a single Suspect who was tortured apart from the Mayor whom they knew was already in the know.
Rt Hon Speaker, we talked to the Mayor and his evidence was that the suspects he was detained with on the first night who were about 26 in one small cell consoled him that they all passed through the same torture and he should bear with his torture, he will be healed.
The Mayor confirmed that Hassan testified in the present of many police officers that he was tortured too much that he just mentioned because of the pain to the officers that all the numbers in his phone were people he worked with to kill AIGP, Kawessi.
Rt Hon Speaker, when Committee wanted to know what is done to Officers who tortures suspects at the point of arrest and their details, the officers of the facility couldn’t bring the details.
2.6: VISIT TO THE CLINIC AT THE FACILITY:
Rt Hon Speaker, the facility has established a clinic at the detention facility and the committee made a visit in the facility which is located within the building where the cells are also located.
The clinic had two staff at the time of the visit, one man and a woman who were working at the time of the visit.
Rt Hon Speaker, the committee checked the medical record books which shows that many suspects were being treated with conditions like; Soft tissues injuries, Open wounds, wounds, pain in ankle joint, Bruises, deformed and taken for physiotherapy, concuston (the medical staff explained further that it means shaky brains) and particular one case was brought with blood flowing from the ears, bruises and many other conditions associated with long detention in the cells.
Rt Hon Speaker, even on that morning when the committee visited, there were suspects treated with conditions of wounds and soft tissues injuries but they were never seen among the suspects presented to the committee and never appearing in the Lock up books presented to the committee. The cases in point are; William- treated for pain in ankle joint, Fred —treated for deformed and taken for Physiotherapy, Sulaiman-treated for wounds and bruises, Godwin- treated wounds and soft tissues injuries, Charles- treated for painful body, Yusuf-Treated for open wounds, Turyagenda- treated for soft tissues injuries and many others.
Rt Hon Speaker, the details of the patients treated that morning and those treated at the facility within the week but were never found at the cells and the lock up books are attached but not included in this report taking into consideration the fact that the cases in Nalufenya are referred to as high profile cases.
Rt Hon Speaker, The AIGP was tasked to explain why those treated in the clinic are nowhere to be seen in the cells and even in their Lock up books? He explained that the clinic treats the police officers, families of police officers and even individuals who are residence of Jinja and they come there for treatments. The committee wondered whether Nalufenya was a specialised place for treatment of wounds, soft tissues injuries, pain in the ankle joints and the AIGP failed to give comprehensive answers on the matter.
2.7: ILLEGAL DETENTION AND VIOLATION OF RIGHTS.
Rt Hon Speaker, the suspects who were at the detention facility were detained illegally beyond the 48 hours enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda Art 23(4).
They are never allowed to see or even talk to their family members and some of them have stayed for as long and 3 months without access to their Lawyers or Personal Doctors and their where about is not known to their family members and relatives.
The committee wanted to know from the Police officers’ reasons as to why suspects are detained for more than 48 hours without charging them in the courts of law. The committee also wanted to find out in particular why the Mayor who is currently crippled and just lying on the bed in Nalufenya, taken for treatment once a week and never taken to court for over one month. No satisfactory answers were given but that some cases take longer to be investigated.
3.0: OBSERVATIONS/FINDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
3.1: Nalufenya is an illegal detention facility since the circular from the IGP written on 14/4/2015 revoking its original status as a police station since the offices of the police, the station and the barrack was vacated and relocated. This explains the reasons as to why suspects are detained beyond the 48 hours stipulated in the constitution of the Republic of Uganda with impunity.
3.2: Some of the suspects were hidden at the time of the visits It seems the police officers keep many records of the suspects and that is why some suspects treated with different conditions of torture were hidden and the only fortunate thing on the side of the committee was that they failed to hide the medical records in the clinic and the committee was able to identify signs of torture at the detention facility.
3.3: Nalufenya is a restricted area and even the Committee members were harassed at the gate for about 40 minutes to the extent that no phones, ipad or any electronic devises were allowed.
It was therefore clear that the explanation by AIGP and the Spoke person of the police that some of the people treated at the clinic come from around Jinja Municipality or families of the police officers for Treatment of wounds, soft tissues injuries and similar conditions was baseless.
It is therefore clear from these evidences that torture takes place at Nalufenya detention Facility but the tortured suspects were hidden at the time of the visits of the committee.
3.4: There were evidence that the operation to arrest the Mayor of Kamwenge was a joined operation and some of the police officers were from Nalufenya detention centre and other police stations and police head quarter.
This was evidenced by conflicting information from the officers that we interacted with in the inception meeting. It is therefore clear that Mr Geoffrey Byamukama was tortured by the joint team and it is impossible to exonerate Nalufenya detention facility on the torture of the Mayor.
3.5: The suspects in the torture of Mayor of Kamwenge and many other suspects of torture are never arrested. This is evidenced by the fact that only 2 out of the 4 police men suspected in the torture of the Mayor were at police cell.
The committee also observed that the two police constables were arrested at the time when the officers were aware that the committee of the parliament was tasked to investigate the detention facility.
The other two Police officers were just in Jinja town while the police officers claimed that they were detained at CPS in Kampala. This fact was unearthed when the AIGP admitted that they were arrested and detained at Nalufenya officers Detention room which officers detention room turned to be nowhere.
4.1: Rt Hon Speaker, the illegal detention place called Nalufenya should be immediately closed because it contravenes the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 as amended;
Art 24, No person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and Art 23(4), A person arrested or detained;
(a) For the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of an order of a court; or
(b) Upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda,
Shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty- eight hours from the time of his or her arrest.
4.2: Rt Hon Speaker, the Directorate of Public Prosecution should investigate and prosecute the police officers and other security organs who have been torturing and detaining illegally the suspects in Nalufenya detention facility since 1 4th April 2015 when the facility became operational.
4.3: Rt. Hon. Speaker, the suspects who are detailed illegally MUST be immediately charged before the court of law within 48 hours from this reporting date and those who might have no preferred cases on them MUST be released within 48 hours since their Constitutional Rights have been violated for all these long.
4.4: Right Hon Speaker, those who will be charged before the court of law MUST be given access to their Lawyers, family members and the private Doctors as required by the Law.
4.5: Rt Hon Speaker, Uganda should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture within 2 months from the date of this reporting.
Rt. Hon Speaker, and Hon Colleagues, this minority report has been prepared and brought before this August House in good faith. In the process of the visit to the illegal detention facility at Nalufenya, I made two starting/opening statements to the police officers;
l ) That we are temporary living in this world and we must make it a good place for the future generations in the event of performing our duties.
2) That we are just small pieces of meat walking around with blood still flowing around the meat and any time we shall leave the world, so we should treat each other humanly.
Rt. Hon Speaker, Hon Colleagues, I wish to repeat the same statements to you and I implore you to support this minority report. Today it is the Mayor of Kamwenge Town Council Mr Geoffrey Byamukama who wiped in front of the committee regretting how diligently he served this government and only to be paid in that currency!
Minority report of the report of the human rights committee of parliament on investigation of allegations of torture at Nalufenya police station/detention facility in Jinja
By Akol Anthony (Mp, Kilak North) member of the Human Rights Committee in May 2017.