Presentation on theme: "The Right to Freedom from Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Uganda’s Experience Presented by Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba Member of."— Presentation transcript:
The Right to Freedom from Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Uganda’s Experience Presented by Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba Member of Parliament REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
International and National Legal Framework relating to torture In Uganda, torture is specifically prohibited under Article 24 of the Constitution which states that: “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 44 also makes the right to protection against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment non-derogable. The prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is also set out in major international and regional instruments ratified by Uganda. These include: -The Universal Declaration of Human Rights(Art 5), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(Art 7), the Convention against Torture, Convention on the Rights of the Child(Art 37) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Why the Initiative for a Specific Law on Torture Over the years, the violation of the right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment has remained the highest recorded violation. In 2011 the UHRC noted a 55% increase in the violation against torture. Of all the awards for human rights violations awarded by the Human Rights Commission, 72.5% are awards related to torture. These numbers are reflected in the financial loss incurred by Government every year, towards compensation for victims of torture.
Why the Initiative for a Specific Law on Torture Torture is only guaranteed by Article 24 of the Uganda Constitution and made an absolute freedom by Article 44(a). However, the current penal law falls short of adequately providing a framework for prosecuting the intricate and vile offence of torture. There was no specific law that criminated torture, and so it was treated as an assault or grievous bodily harm under the Penal Code Act. It is only the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002 that contains a specific offense of torture but it does not define the offence of torture.
Why the Initiative for a Specific Law on Torture In its recommendation to the Uganda State report, the Committee Against Torture (CAT), the State was called upon to take all necessary legislative, administrative and judicial measures to prevent acts of torture including steps to eliminate impunity of alleged perpetrators of acts of torture, carry out prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigations, try and where appropriate convict perpetrators of torture and impose appropriate sentences on offenders and compensate victims.
THE PROHIBITION AND PREVENTION OF TORTURE ACT 2012 On the 26th of April 2012, Parliament passed the Prohibition and Prevention of torture law. The law is still pending Presidential ascent before it come into effect.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ANTI -TORTURE LAW Widening the definition of torture to include private individuals:- The new law provides a wide definition to torture to include individual persons and non-state actors, Individual responsibility:- Individual persons and non-state actors shall be held individually responsible for acts of torture’ Supervisors shall be held liable in cases where they either condoned or were aware of the on-going acts of torture, Punishment for the offence of torture:- Person convicted of torture shall be liable for 15 years imprisonment, Inadmissibility of evidence obtained by means of torture:- Any evidence obtained by means of torture inadmissible in court, except in instances where such evidence is being used against the alleged perpetrator of torture, Inadmissibility of evidence obtained by means of torture:- Torture is made an international crime, and provides for the prosecution of any person within the territory of Uganda who is alleged to have committed torture and is resident in Uganda no matter where the act was committed.
Strategies and Procedure Used to Have the Law Passed Documented information on number of cases and trends of torture, victims and perpetrators. Conducted a survey which found the that one in ten persons in the survey population in the survey areas had been tortured. This information was used to persuade the authorities on the magnitude of the problem and need for reform.
Strategies and Procedure Used to Have the Law Passed Propelled by the desire to advance a cause and motivated by the power of, and in, numbers, various NGOs working on torture formed a coalition named the Coalition Against Torture in early The main objective of CAT, at the time, was to rally Civil Society organisations (CSO) and Community Based Organisations (CBO) with the task to identify, document and package information on torture and use it for collective lobbying, media campaigns and awareness- raising.
Strategies and Procedure Used to Have the Law Passed The UHRC together with the Coalition Against Torture identified a team of legal experts who drafted the anti-torture bill. The UHRC and the Coalition then identified a dedicated and focused Member of Parliament to table the bill before Parliament. Members of Parliament were sensitized, and informed of the situation of torture in the country with statistics. They were also lobbied.
Strategies and Procedure Used to Have the Law Passed Persistent campaigns and advocacy were done by the UHRC and the Coalition in the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) to ensure the enactment of an anti torture law. Advocacy was also done in the media, judiciary, JLOS institution, academia, politicians, donors and the general public. The UHRC and the Coalition stared publishing opinion articles in the media and actively participated in public talk shows in order to highlight the importance of the bill. Because of these measures, the bill received support from the public and all stakeholders.
Why Private member’s bill? A government initiated bill would have had the whole concept referred to the Uganda Law Reform Commission for a baseline study. There was concern that this might be a long process given the fact that the Law Reform Commission has its own priorities and bureaucracies to deal with and this might delay the process and prolong the suffering of torture victims. Besides, the government may not take the obligation to outlaw torture as a matter of priority. Therefore the option of having a government initiated bill was thought to be inappropriate, a strategy to bring a private members bill was thought to be faster.
Presentation of a petition In order to catch the attention of the legislature and demonstrate that the need for a law on torture is not just a NGO initiative but one that enjoys the support of the wider population, the Coalition collected signatures for a petition to be presented to the Speaker of Parliament. This drew the attention of the Speaker to the specific issues of torture and also gained mileage for the bill in the press.
Conclusion The task was enormous; but with the abilities of the Members of Parliament, UHRC, the Coalition and the general consensus in our population we managed to have the bill passed by Parliament. For those who wish to have such law passed in your countries, you need to build on the achievements thus far, maintain the momentum and look beyond yourselves in search for strategies to ensure that a law is enacted. Though the elimination of torture and ill-treatment cannot be conceived solely in legal terms, we believe that the new law will go a long way in eliminating torture in Uganda.