The African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) has petitioned the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to push for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
ACTV Chief Executive Officer, Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, said there is need to ratify the instrument that seeks to prevent incidences of infringement on human rights.
“If government ratifies this protocol then human rights activists can monitor and prevent torture and ill treatment in places of detention. Currently, we are not allowed to visit these places without prior notice of the authorities; giving them dates and times allows them to clean up their dirt,” Nsubuga said.
Nsubuga was appearing before the committee on Wednesday, 31 July 2019.
The Protocol seeks to prevent incidences of human rights abuse within places of detention. It focuses on prevention of torture and ill treatment serving as a national preventive mechanism. If ratified, the United Nations Sub-committee on Torture is in position to visit places of detention without prior notice.
Hon. Angelina Osegge (FDC, Soroti District) said the ratification of the protocol is important since torture is being witnessed in land disagreements.
“We either get complacent or surrender; people end up losing lives or limbs due to land disagreements. We need to be clear on whether the law should be tightened or it is an issue of implementation,” Osegge said.
ACTV Head of Programmes, Esther Nabwire, said one of the challenges faced was private actors involved in torture being brought to book and yet this is not the case with the perpetrators in government.
“As per our statistics, the police are the greatest offenders regarding torture. In most cases, police health doctors record this as assault and torture; we therefore find it hard to prove torture,” Nabwire said.
The Committee chairperson, Hon. Janepher Nantume, said that the committee needed more time to interact with the team so that the issues raised on torture can be clearly understood.
“I do identify with these torture situations. I am from the islands and we have seen a number of people tortured by army officers. We need to understand this more if we are to spearhead the ratification of the protocol,” she said.