Practice Relating to Rule 126. Visits to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
In the Cherop case of the Uganda Human Rights Commission at Kampala in 2004, the complainant was a Sergeant of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) who was detained by the UPDF intelligence in 2000 after allegedly “disappearing with a firearm”. The Commission stated:
24. In addition to the illegal detention of Cherop for 39 days there was another breach which constituted a violation of Cherop’s right to personal liberty. There is evidence proving that Cherop was detained incommunicado and was denied access to relatives or friends or medical treatment. …
25. In refusing [a cousin of the complainant] to have access to Cherop the UPDF violated Cherop’s procedural rights under Article 23(5)(b) [of the Ugandan Constitution] which is intended to safeguard detainees from abuse. Article 23(5)(b) of the Constitution clearly provides as follows:
(5) Where a person is restricted or detained –
(b) the next-of-kin, lawyer and personal doctor shall be allowed reasonable access to that person …
In the circumstances of this complaint the UPDF officers were in obvious breach of the above constitutional provision and the breach constituted additional violation of Cherop’s right to personal liberty.
In 2003, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Uganda stated that “where a person is restricted or detained under a law made for the purpose of a state of emergency”, the constitution of Uganda provides that “[t]he spouse or next of kin of or other person named by the person restricted or detained shall be informed of the restriction or detention and allowed access to the person within seventy two hours after the commencement of the restriction or detention”.