PERSONS convicted of torture could get up to 15 years in jail or pay a fine of sh7.2m or both if the Bill criminalising the offence is passed into law, the president of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) has said.
Bruce Kyerere said there is no legislation against torture, although the vice was outlawed in the 1995 Constitution.
He described the Anti-Torture Bill as a â€œmodest near-comprehensive attempt at defining and criminalising torture.â€
Kyerere made the remarks while opening a discussion on torture organised by Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) (Lawyers without Borders).
The Bill, he said, not only defines the offence of torture, but also personalises liability for torturous actions.
â€œIndividual perpetrators will now be answerable for their actions.â€
He, however, noted that the Bill grants the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) unfettered powers to take over torture cases being handled by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), which may subject such cases to bureaucratic delays and prejudice sensitive torture cases against the State.
Kyerere said the Bill also limits the jurisdiction to consider the torture cases to the High Court.
He called for strategies to address â€œthe apparent luke-warm commitment of the State to address causes of torture within the various institutions, especially security agencies which sometimes are a law unto themselves.â€
The ASF seeks to identify strategies to address the challenges faced by victims in accessing justice.
The head of the Police professional standards unit, John Nduguse, said the Force has zero tolerance to torture.
He urged the public to report such cases to toll free lines 0800200019, 0800199199, 0800199299. The lines, he said are accessible 24 hours a day .
Tambwe Suwed, from the Police community affairs department, said they do not condone the use of torture in either interrogating suspects or effecting arrests.
He said torture was not only restricted to security agents as most often reported, but also by some members of the public especially when they engage in mob actions.
UHRC registrar Ruth Ssekindi listed the common forms of torture like amputating body parts, injecting victims with strange substances in the testicles, rape, sodomy and threats of infection with HIV.
ASF, an international NGO based in Belgium, comprises lawyers who work independently to contribute to the creation of fair and equitable societies.
Torture convicts to get 15 years in jail