Parliament raps police over torture of Zaake 

By Henry Sekanjako

"He told me that he was beaten and had pepper-sprayed in his eyes. He said he spent several days in Police custody and Police must account for his injuries," Kadaga said.

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COVID-19 | PARLIAMENT 
 
Parliament has tasked the Government with explaining the torture of Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake, who was recently arrested by security forces for allegedly distributing food to his constituents in contravention of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. 
 
In her communication to Parliament yesterday, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, told the House that she had, over the weekend, visited the MP, who is currently admitted at Rubaga Hospital. 
 
Kadaga said Zaake told her that he had been badly beaten while in Police custody. 
 
"He told me that he was beaten and had pepper-sprayed in his eyes. He said he spent several days in Police custody and Police must account for his injuries," she said. 
 
Kadaga said the youthful legislator also disclosed to her that on the four occasions he has been arrested by the Police, he has been severely beaten for no clear reason. 
 
Describing the act by the security forces as a violation of human rights, the House demanded that the Police explain to Parliament and the country why the MP was subjected to such pain and humiliation. 
 
"This is a violation of human rights and it is unacceptable. I direct the internal affairs minister to explain to the House and the country about Zaake's situation," Kadaga demanded.  
 
She further demanded that the Government takes action against the perpetrators of the torture of the MP and other Ugandans that have been subjected to torture by security forces. 
 
"On Thursday, we expect a reply from the minister, explaining to us what happened to Zaake and what he is going to do about the perpetrators," she said. 
 
Expressed concern 
 
Debating Kadaga's communication on the torture of a fellow legislator, the MPs expressed concern that the Police had made it a habit to torture Zaake whenever he is under their custody.  
 
Mukono South MP Muyanja Ssenyonga demanded that the Government explain why Zaake is continuously brutalised on their watch. 

In 2018, during the Arua Municipality parliamentary byelection, which was conducted on August 15, the Oppositionleaning legislator was severely injured when he was assaulted by security forces. 
 
Zaake, who was dumped at Rubaga Hospital for treatment, later sought specialised medical care in India as a result of the injuries that he sustained at the hands of security forces. 
 
Legal action 
 
Speaking to journalists over the weekend, Zaake told the media that he would take legal action against his tormentors. 
 
"It is so discomforting to see one of us in such a sorry state. Under no circumstances should an MP be tortured like that. If this is being done to an  MP, what will happen to an ordinary Ugandan?" Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County MP) asked. 
The MPs demanded that the Government takes action against cabinet ministers Haruna Kasolo and Rosemary Sseninde, who they said were found distributing food in a worse manner when compared to Zaake. 
 
"For Zaake, he was only packing and sending to his electorate. But these ministers were seen on video distributing food to crowds and up to now. We want to know if the Police will question them over disobeying the President's directives," Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West MP) said. 
 
Tumukunde saga 
 
During yesterday's sitting, Tororo County North MP Annet Nyakecho also implored Parliament to fight for presidential hopeful Gen. Henry Tumukunde. 
 
The retired general was in March this year remanded to Luzira Prison after he was charged with treason and four counts of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. 
 
However, according to Nyakecho, who is a close ally of Tumukunde, the general's human rights have been violated by the State, which has denied him access to his lawyers and family. 
 
"You have a presidential hopeful behind bars. His family and lawyers cannot visit him, Madam Speaker, I know you to be an advocate for justice. This House needs to speak about this," Nyakecho pleaded. 
 
Narrating her ordeal following her arrest in relation to her work with Tumukunde, Nyakecho told the House how the Police assaulted her while in their custody. 
 
She implored the Government to address the gross abuse of human rights of Ugandans in custody.