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THE HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE UGANDA

Defending Human Rights Defenders


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Rehabilitate Survivors, bring perpetrators to Account

The Commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a reminder that Human Rights Defenders have a special role in ensuring access to justice and an effective remedy. Freedom from torture is an integral part of the Bill of Rights of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. This right is enshrined under Article 24 of the 1995 Constitution which states that “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” this right entails respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment.It is commendable to note that the Government of Uganda enacted the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act in 2012 (PPTA)to Operationalize Article 24 of the Constitution. The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs further enacted the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Regulations in 2017 to facilitate implementation the Prohibition of Torture Act in 2012 (PPTA) .

In spite of the effort to put in place a law, statistics and reports however show an increase of the prevalence of different forms of Torture. Of the 5,021 complaints received by the Uganda Human Rights Commission in 2017, 628 were registered and the alleged violation of freedom torture ranked highest with 306 complaints (33.4%) among those that were registered.

In order to ensure the rehabilitation of survivors of torture and accountability for acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; Human Rights Defenders have to be free to promote and protect civil and political rights. This encompasses freedoms including from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; right to personal liberty which addresses issues of arbitrary arrest and detention; freedom of speech and expression; freedom of assembly and movement; right to a fair trial and hearing; and the right to an effective remedy.

In line with the theme of this year,” Rehabilitate Survivors, bring perpetrators to Account”, it is important to note that little has been done to engage torture survivors/. Therefore the need to mainstream effective documentation of torture cases so that survivors are able to access justice becomes apparent. There is also urgent need to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) which will allow the establishment of a National Prevention Mechanism to prevent torture and allow both national and international organisations unfettered access to all detention centers. Ratification of the OPCAT, will contribute to the mitigation of torture to a large extent.

It is the responsibility of everyone to promote and protect human rights although the primary responsibility lies with the state to protect and promote human rights. In addition to compensation, rehabilitation of torture victims should be key to ensure that the survivors get an effective remedy. The state should therefore mainstream the component of rehabilitation in its redress mechanism for torture survivors as spelt out in the international and regional human rights instruments to which Uganda as a state party to.


 
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