Medical association condemns torture cases in Uganda

By Our Reporter.

Uganda Medical Association (UMA) members have condemned continued cases of torture by security agencies in custody or those found walking on streets. Medics say security agencies have directed  repression on civilians  and inflicted bodily injuries on suspects in their custody some of whom have been detained incommunicado.

In a strong worded statement titled torture  and medical care  for victims of torture” dated February  12 and signed by UMA President Dr Oledo Samuel Odongo and Secretary General Dr Herbert Luswata, medics  said torture in custody in Uganda  has been  rising since 2012.

They noted that between 2012 and 2016 alone the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)  received 1000 cases of torture while in police custody. “During  the Covid -19 pandemic  the UHRC received a total of 238 cases (203 male and 35 female) complaints of torture. 

At least 150 cases were reported  against  Uganda Police Force , 83 against Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) and five  against Uganda Prison Services,” said the statement.

But the medical practitioners added that all the cases come at a time  when Uganda is one of only 10 African countries with Anti Torture legislation and signatory to the United Nations Torture convention.

They cited prominent cases of torture that include  victims of the Uganda 2021 pre – election and post – election violence and unexplained  incarcerations of alleged torture without court  appearances of opposition leaders, youth and other supporters of various political groups .UMA noted  recent cases that include Mr  Samuel Masereka  of Kasese town who was detained incommunicado , tortured and released when he was unable to walk, and his body exhibited credible evidence of torture. They added that  the most recent arrest and torture with credible physical bodily evidence is Pen award author  Mr Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

The medical association condemned delay and sometimes denial of access to specialized medical care for suspects, adding that Members of Parliament Hon. Muhamad Segirinya and Hon. Allan Ssewanyana are among others  that  have suffered from another form of torture against suspects.

“Today we join our global fraternity of doctors to condemn  the torture of Ugandans by Security forces, who are charged with protecting our lives and property. Torture to Suspects and convicts does not only lead to physical trauma but also affects mental health leading to anxiety, depression and sometimes psychotic problems”, said UMA statement.

The medical practitioners said they encourage doctors to always denounce, document and report cases of torture to the relevant authorities or action, whenever patients come or presented  themselves for medical care..

“We are more than ready to assist those tortured persons who have been freed from custody and we are also ready to assist those in custody for both basic medical care. We include highly specialized treatment outside the confines of military walls where it is uncertain if a conducive patient–doctor relationship exists,” they said.

Doctors recalled  that in October 2013 at the 64th General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA) in Brazil chaired by Ugandan Dr.Margaret Mungherera (R.I.P), the

W M A reaffirmed Its total condemnation of all forms of torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT,1984).

“We implore our members (Doctors in Uganda) to abide by the WMA statement on Torture and use their medical experience to support torture victims in accordance with article 14 of the UN Convention against Torture,” they declared.

  Uganda Medical Association  brings together over 7,000 Doctors in the country and in the diaspora.  The association works through 14 regional  branches with their twin mission  on welfare and professionalism of the medical doctors and for the people of Uganda to enjoy quality health  services■

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