By Cornes Lubangakene
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has launched a special report on peace, justice and human rights situation in Acholi sub-region.
The report launched at Bomah Hotel in Gulu puts torture and inhuman degrading treatment as those with the highest number of human rights violation cases (41.2%) registered in Acholi sub-region in the one year project duration.
The report said there were 97 cases reported during the project period that started in July 2011 and ended in June this year.
Denial of liberty, property and child maintenance followed with 39.1%, 7.2% and 6.1% respectively of the 97 registered complaints during the project period.
The report puts the Police at the forefront of human rights violations in Acholi with 63.9% followed by the UPDF at 11.6%, private individuals at 6.9% and Uganda Prisons service at 5.8%.
The report highlighted delays by the Attorney General's office to respond to matters forwarded for amicable settlement as well as delay in payment of tribunal awards to the torture victims.
The deputy Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola who officiated at the launch of the report said the Police are always top of all human rights violation reports but noted that people should also know that the Police protect them from human rights violations.
"We are always top in any report of human rights violations but if we also ask what number of people whose rights the Police have protected, we shall also surprisingly be on top. Unfortunately the other side of the story is not always heard," Ochola said.
He said a committee will be set up to study the report so that its recommendations are implemented.
Ochola added that Police officers are being trained on the guidelines against torture so that they train other personnel to guard against it.
The UHRC secretary Gordon Mwesigye said the report is intended for Parliament to see what to do because despite the end of the war in Acholi sub-region, there are still enormous human rights violations to be attended to.
The Lamwo district LC5 chairman Mathew Akiya said there is need to establish civic education in the community so that people have respect for human rights defenders like the Police.
The acting chairperson of the commission, Col. Stephen Basaliza said Government should consider affirmative action for the region that is recovering from the conflict, considering the gross human rights violations and traumatic experiences.
Among other recommendations in the 92-page report was that the recently enacted Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Act should be urgently enacted and that the UPDF should train and build capacities of its officers to do their work without violating human rights.
They should be equipped with modern investigation techniques so that they do not resort to torture or illegal detention of suspects.