Practice Relating to Rule 90. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
Uganda’s Code of Conduct (1986) requires members of the armed forces not to abuse, insult, shout at or beat any member of the public.
Uganda’s Geneva Conventions Act (1964) punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether within or without Uganda commits or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of any grave breach of the [1949 Geneva] Conventions”.
In the Ojera case before the Uganda Human Rights Commission at Gulu in 2004, the complainant sought compensation for being detained and beaten by members of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in 2001. The Commission stated:
10. Next to be considered is whether Ojera’s freedom from torture was violated. Freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is protected under Article 24 of the Constitution which provides as follows:
24 No person shall be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In addition to Article 24, Article 44 of the Constitution lists freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment among the absolute rights which are non-derogable.
12. On the basis of this general understanding of the meaning of torture, the Tribunal finds that there is ample evidence to support the complainant’s contention that his freedom from torture was violated. Evidence show that he was extensively beaten and he experienced severe pain and suffering. … There is simple evidence to show that the soldiers inflicted pain and suffering on Ojera and that the purpose was to get him [to] admit that he was either a killer or that he possessed an illegal gun. These acts constituted torture and violated the complainant’s right contrary to Article 24 and 44 of the Constitution.
In 2003, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Uganda stated that there are “certain Rights that cannot be derogated from and these include freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
The report further states:
143. Uganda ratified the Convention against Torture in 1986 and is currently in the process of compiling the Initial Report to the Committee on Human Rights. Uganda also ratified the First Optional Protocol on the ICCPR [1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] with reservations on Article 5.
144. Article 24 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda prohibits any form of torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Further, under Article 44 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, torture is made non-derogable.
145. The Penal Code, Cap. 106 that governs crime in Uganda, specifically provides for some components of torture. It specifically provides for some components of torture e.g. Assault, grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and attempted murder. Nevertheless, there is no law defining torture in Uganda per se.
149. Solitary confinement has existed in Uganda prisons since independence in 1962. The government of Uganda has been using this as a control measure of its convicts. However, the Government of Uganda has acknowledged that prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture and has therefore taken steps to rectify the situation in the Prisons Bill.
150. The Prisons Bill prohibits the use of solitary confinement except in the case of extremely violent offenders.
Medical and scientific experimentation
151. Uganda does not have legislation in respect of torture related to scientific and medical experimentation without the free consent of the persons concerned. However, government policy dictates that consent must be obtained from a person being subjected to medical or scientific experimentation.
In addition, the report states:
473. It is important to note that … there are areas where derogation is not acceptable under whatever circumstances. They are under article 44.
474. Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) states that:
Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, there shall not be derogation from the enjoyment of the following rights and freedoms:
(a) freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(b) freedom from slavery or servitude;
(c) right to fair hearing;
(d) right to an order of habeas corpus.
In the Ojera case before the Uganda Human Rights Commission at Gulu in 2004, the complainant sought compensation for being detained and beaten by members of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces in 2001. The Commission stated:
Although it prohibits torture absolutely, the Constitution does not define torture. International human rights law however, defines torture in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
, 1984. The Uganda Human Rights Commission has applied this definition in several of its decisions. In essence torture is understood to mean the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental on a person for the purpose of getting from him or a third person information or a confession. It is also torture if the pain or suffering is for the purpose of punishing a person for an act the person or another person has done or is suspected to have committed. It is also torture if the pain or suffering is inflicted in order to intimidate or coerce a person or a third person.