Joint Press Statement on the United Nations Day In Support Of Torture Survivors, 26th June 2018
National theme: Rehabilitate survivors, bring perpetrators to account!
Uganda ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) on 26th June 1987, and thus became bound under its international principles, BUT has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which provides for the establishment of a National Planning Mechanism and monitoring of places of detention opened to all intending Human Rights bodies. The UNCAT was domesticated and the right to freedom from torture was incorporated into the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda specifically under Articles 24 and 44 respectively. The enactment of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012 (PPTA) criminalizes all acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. However, this has not yet been effectively translated into practice. The implementation of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture 2012 Act continues to face a major challenge due to limited awareness among both state and non-state actors which has hindered survivors from accessing justice.
Every year, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) together with the Coalition Against Torture in Uganda (CAT) always come together to commemorate the International day in Support of torture survivors on June 26th. The event is intended to raise awareness among key stakeholders, partners, human rights activists and survivors of torture.
This year’s commemoration and its rationale
The local theme for this year 2018 is “Rehabilitate survivors, bring perpetrators to account”.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Coalition Against Torture in Uganda chaired by the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) together with other like-minded civil society organisations and entities believe that it is only by working together through partnerships and coalitions that large strides can be reached as far as realising the effective implementation of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 in Uganda. However, since Rehabilitation of a torture survivor is a Human Right, there is still a lot to be done as far as amplifying voices of the voiceless in communities is concerned towards fostering access to justice and achieving rehabilitation of survivors. The criminal justice system in Uganda still needs to be awakened to both reporting and effective investigation and documentation of torture for effective prosecution of the culprits both as a Human Rights violation and a crime besides the devastating effects it occasions to victims. The perpetrator can no longer be left at large anymore. Enough is enough! Rehabilitate survivors, bring perpetrators to account!
Objectives of the commemoration week
Over the years besides passive participation, little has been done as far as engaging the Torture survivor in this commemoration week is concerned. The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) together with the Coalition Against Torture in Uganda (CAT) therefore has strived to make this year’s commemoration as more ‘survivor centred’ as possible. We expect to achieve the following as the week goes by;
- To mainstream the concept of Rehabilitation of torture survivors in Uganda and its justiciability in our formal court system.
- To strategise on how to enhance accountability by the state towards advocating for the effective implementation of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act,
- Build synergies within state and non-state actors towards advocating for the full implementation of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act,
- Foster information sharing, equipping knowledge and capacity building through experience sharing and learning among participants on cases of torture and related acts of inhumane treatment.
These activities will bring together members of the parliament, Judiciary, security, the academia, magistrates, police standards unit, prisons, legal aid project, survivors of torture, and civil society and the media among others.
Activities for the commemoration week among others:
- Press conference at Human Rights Centre Uganda on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 starting at 10am: “Human Rights Defenders and torture.”
- A Press Conference: Thursday, 21st June, 2018 in Kampala at UHRC, starting at 10am.
- 4 Community dialogues: 2 Community dialogues in Kampala on Thursday, 21st June 2018 at Old Kampala S.S playground and Friday, 22nd June, 2018 at Kitintale Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) grounds. The other 2 will be in Gulu and Kotido all starting at 9am.
- 5 Marching processions on June the 26th; In Kampala, Kiryandongo, Lamwor, Adjumani and Gulu districts all starting at 8am.
- And electronic, print and social media advocacy campaigns on torture and the law from Thursday 21st June 2018 to Saturday 30th June 2018.
I wish therefore on behalf of our partners in the fight against torture to strongly urge the public not to give up on reporting violations to relevant authorities on all forms of violations on the Right to Freedom from Torture and Cruel, Inhumane, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Rehabilitation of torture victims is a human right and in that regard, the state should 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 is party and accountable to.
For God and My Country
Med S.K. Kaggwa