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II. Recommendations

To the Government of Uganda:

  • End impunity for human rights abuses by government security, police, armed forces, and other armed organizations, particularly violations of the right to life and fair trial; the right to be charged before a judge within forty-eight hours of arrest; the right to be detained solely in gazetted or legal places of detention; and freedom from torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, and prolonged arbitrary detention. All allegations of torture and mistreatment should be fully investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice and, where there is evidence that a crime has been committed, tried in accordance with principles of international law.
  • Make a Declaration under Article 22 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), allowing the Committee against Torture to consider individual complaints; ratify the Optional Protocol to the CAT (allowing visits to Uganda by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture) and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
  • Conduct a medical examination of each detainee at the time he or she is detained and when the detainee is transferred to the jurisdiction of the court.
  • Disband state security agencies that have not been created pursuant to an act of Parliament.
  • Immediately release or charge with recognizable criminal offenses before a civilian court all those currently held without charge.
  • Compensate victims of torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention adequately and speedily.
  • Abolish the death penalty in all cases and commute the sentences of all persons held on death row to life imprisonment.
  • Limit the use of confessions as a basis for pre-trial detention or conviction to confessions freely made in the presence of counsel and ratified within twenty-four hours before a judge and the defendant’s counsel.
  • Revise the constitutional provision that allows pre-trial detention of 360 days without bail in cases triable only by the High Court, such as terrorism and treason to ensure that the constitution permits bail unless the state presents to a judge prima facie evidence that the defendant is implicated in a recognizable crime.
  • Facilitate bail applications for those in remand by providing simple forms and instructions, and other means.
  • Ensure that legally-required autopsies are actually carried out for every person who dies while in custody of any agency of the state, and make autopsy reports publicly available.
  • Undertake a prompt and comprehensive review of national legislation governing treason, terrorism, and other public order charges to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.
  • Amend the National Resistance Army (NRA) statute to limit the jurisdiction of the court martial to active duty military personnel only (not retired, resigned, or otherwise severed from military employment) and to allow appeals from judgments of the court martial appeal court to the Supreme Court, where that right does not already exist.
  • Remove the personal jurisdiction of the general court martial and Ministry of Defence over any civilian, including retired military personnel, even when the civilian is accused of acting or conspiring to act with active duty military personnel. In cases of military personnel limit the subject-matter jurisdiction of the general court martial to violations of the military code. Remove the jurisdiction of the general court martial and Ministry of Defence over the crimes of treason, terrorism, and related offenses, by whomever committed.
  • Increase funding for the judicial system in order to enable at least one branch of the High Court to be created and function in each district of the country. Fund legal aid for defense by counsel of their choice of those charged with capital crimes in civil courts and courts martial.
  • Publish or encourage the publication of the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs (PCDIA) investigation into safe houses, torture, and related abuses.
  • Specifically give the UHRC and the PCDIA the authority and mandate to conduct investigations and visits to any place in Uganda, including military barracks, where there are allegations of detention of any person; assure that they have the power to conduct such investigations and visits without notice. The UHRC should remain an independent agency, not under the jurisdiction, control, or supervision of the Inspector-General of Government (IGG) or other arm of the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of government.

To the Judiciary:

  • Use judicial powers to appoint a judicial agent to visit, without prior notice, prisons, police stations, military garrisons and barracks, and any other facility where persons are alleged to be held or treated in violation of their rights by state agents.
  • Require that each prisoner brought for the first time to the jurisdiction of the court be accompanied by a doctor’s report documenting his or her medical condition at the time of detention and again when the prisoner is first brought to court.
  • Require that the state, in answering a writ of habeas corpus, bring the named detainee into the court in the presence of his legal representatives and family; if the detainee is not released, transfer him to prison and require prison authorities to immediately arrange for a medical examination, providing the court and his representative with an expedited detailed written report of the applicant’s condition.

To the Ugandan Medical Profession and Its Relevant Associations:

Investigate whether the conduct of physicians providing death certificates in cases of prisoners who died in the military hospital, and involved in the diagnosis and treatment of prisoners during their detention, conforms to ethical standards.

To Donor Countries:

  • Closely monitor any military, police, security, and anti-terrorism assistance to the Ugandan government to ensure that human rights standards are strictly observed by the military, police, and security forces. Provide human rights training as an integral component of all capacity building and training projects involving the military, police, and security forces. Such training should include a strong component designed to stop the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment as an interrogation technique or punishment.

Human rights benchmarks should include improvements in relation to the issues discussed in this report:

- A reduction in the numbers of persons who are held pending investigation for treason or terrorism, or misprision thereof (failing to inform officials of any person’s intent to commit treason, or failing to endeavor to prevent treason);

- A reduction in the time period anyone spends in custody prior to completion of the investigation prior to formal charges (now a maximum 360 days);

- An increase in the rate of processing amnesty applications by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and continued timely processing so no prisoner has to wait longer than three weeks after applying for amnesty to be released; during the processing of the applications, those reasonably suspected of serious human rights violations should be excluded from amnesty.

- A decrease in the numbers of persons awaiting trial in prison and of the time periods they spend in prison awaiting trial;

- Appointment of special qualified staff in the office of the UHRC whose chief duty is to visit, without notice, places of detention specifically including army barracks and CMI locations; and

- An increase in staff and in the rate at which complaints are processed and heard at the UHRC and its tribunal.

Aid given should include assistance for the development of a pluralistic and independent civil society, a vibrant non governmental organization (NGO) community, human rights groups with a monitoring capacity, an independent and accountable press, an independent judiciary with the capacity to function effectively, and a robust and independent human rights commission.

  • Sponsor and support the creation of a full-time international human rights monitoring field presence in northern and eastern Uganda and Kampala. The monitoring unit should investigate incidents of abuses and submit regular and public reports on the conflict in northern and eastern Uganda and human rights abuses throughout Uganda and anywhere the UPDF operates.

To the United Nations (U.N.) Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

  • The Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture and the African Commission “focal point” on Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa should request permission to visit Uganda and prepare a report on torture and ill treatment for their mandating bodies, with recommendations to the government of Uganda.


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April 2004