President Yoweri Museveni has written to Uganda’s security and law enforcement chiefs warning that torture does not work in the fight against crime, and should be stopped, if it is happening.
“The use of torture is unnecessary and wrong and must not be used again if it was being used as I see some groups claiming in the media,” Museveni said in his letter, after giving the law enforcement and security chiefs a historical background on the subject in relation to Ugandan society.
Museveni, who is Commander-In-Chief, wrote the letter on Monday to UPDF Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura and to the directors of intelligence services ISO and ESO, explaining why torture should never be used for any reason. Col.(Rtd) Frank Kaka Bagyenda and Joseph Ocwet head the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and External Security Organisation (ESO) respectively.
He was reacting to media reports that indicate Kamwenge Town Council Mayor Geoffrey Byamukama was recently tortured and hospitalized by police at Nalufenya. The same facility was in the spotlight, when other suspects in the recent murder of Police spokesman AIGP Andrew Kaweesi pleaded with court to be moved to Luzira, claiming torture.
Police deny having tortured the suspects at the facility, implying it was inflicted on them when they were under different security forces.
Museveni warned that whereas in “Uganda’s traditional societies, torture was commonly used and was not only accepted but, actually, encouraged….it is clear that torture in order to extract confessions (okutatsya) has three possible mistakes that may even interfere with the fight against crime.”
He explained that “you may torture the wrong person, somebody who is totally innocent. This is very unfair.”
Or, he said, “somebody may admit guilt when he is innocent in order to be spared being tortured. This will make the real criminal escape in order to commit more crimes later.”
Museveni added that ” confessions by the criminals are not necessary. Even if the suspects do not admit their guilt, if the investigators do their work well (finger-prints, photo-graphs, DNA tests, eye-witnesses, the use of other scientific methods, the use of dogs etc), the criminals can get convicted.”
He said having defeated rebels like Lakwena, ADF and UPA, Uganda’s security forces “cannot fail to cope with cowards using boda bodas to kill people who are peacefully sitting in their cars or walking along the streets.”
He therefore urged the army and police not to panic. He said they should not go back to the defective traditional methods of okutatsya.
“We shall get them (criminals) using patient means of evidence but not through torture because evidence through torture is not reliable,” Museveni concluded.
FULL LETTER BELOW