The Uganda People’s Defence Forces has come out to emphasize that it is an institution that follows and respects human rights and the rule of law.
The UPDF made the pronouncement during the release of the 4th quarterly report for the state of rule of law in the country by the Uganda Law Society, where various security organs were named as violators of human rights through torture, detention without trial and brutal arrests of suspects.
The report pointed out a number of cases in the last quarter of the year, including the brutal arrest of DP’s Yusuf Kawooya in Kampala, the arrest and torture of 33 politicians in Arua some of who were paraded in court bleeding and walking on clutches, the degrading treatment to Hon Francis Zaake and Hon Betty Nambooze as they appeared before Police, among others.
At the launch of this report at Serena Hotel Kampala Brigadier Asingura Kagoro, the head of the Legal Department in the UPDF said that the army as an institution respects human rights to the extent that it has a fully-fledged department dealing with this.
He said however, that there may be some errant officers within the army who do contrary acts that taint the image of the army.
“Members of the UPDF come from you not from Mars. We are your brothers and sisters. There may be some errant officers committing crimes like in the civilian population but it doesn’t make everybody a criminal,” he said.
Kagoro added that the UPDF is very strict when it comes to disciplining its officers, but is sometimes let down by intervention from civil courts. He cited the recent High Court ruling which declared all army courts as unconstitutional.
“Army officers should be tried in army courts not civilian courts because civilian courts can’t meet standards of disciplining these people who are armed,” he said.
He added that the Court Martial mostly gives deterrent sentences which once implemented; prevent other soldiers from engaging in commission of these offences.
Kagoro called upon various stakeholders in the legal fraternity to always engage with them in case of any human rights violation cases.
Mrs Joyce Nalunga, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda Law Society pointed out that Rule of law is the fundamental stone for the efficient and Democratic governance of systems.
Among others issues pointed out in this report was the deaths under unclear circumstances like the capsized MV Templar where 32 people perished, St Bernard Manya school fire where 11 students perished, media houses that abused people’s privacy by publishing their assets without their approval.