By Cecilia Okoth
A recent report by a civil society organization (CSO) indicates a spike in torture cases in the first half of last year as compared to the previous year, raising concern.
An annual report published by African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture victims (ACTV) notes that there were 1337 new cases registered in the first half of 2012 as compared to 1, 132 in 2011, representing an 18 percent increase.
Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ACTV also expressed serious concerns over the torture situation in the country over the last six months of this year, saying numerous cases had already been registered.
"By July we registered 1000 new cases of fresh survivors of torture," Nsubuga said.
Nsubuga urged journalists to expose the vice, saying it will help in shaping the media platform and highlight the important provisions of the law.
"We have treated a number of journalists who have been tortured and abused when doing their work," he said, at a breakfast meeting with the media at Hotel Africana on Tuesday.
ACTV provides treatment and rehabilitation services to survivors of torture in the country. The research was carried out in Kampala and Gulu, prisons and refugee camps and largely faults security agencies for the vice. Most of the victims of torture, he said are men, attributing this to the high levels of poverty.
"They are mainly tortured by security agencies and armed groups. Others are violent related," he said.
In his presentation on the Anti-Torture Bill, Nicholas Opiyo, an advocate and the Secretary, Uganda Law Society, said a person who performs any act of torture as defined in the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 15 years or to a fine of Sh360 currency points (about sh7.2m) or both.
Opiyo urged the Government to sensitize the police on the provision of the Act with the view of combating torture in the country. "Persistent reports from the Uganda Humana Rights Commission have pointed out security agencies as the biggest perpetrators of torture," he said.
"The ordinary police who are in touch with the torture suspect should have a pocket guide about the Bill," Opiyo said. Opiyo also said the police should not arrest any suspect unless they have the evidence because it burdens the prisons.