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News from Uganda

Lack of Accountability for Torture, Extrajudicial Killings

In March, John Martin Okoth Ochola was appointed Inspector General of Police. His predecessor, Kale Kayihura, was arrested three months later, brought before a military court and charged with failing to protect war materials, failing to supervise police officers and abetting the kidnap and forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees. He has been released on bail but charges remain pending.

In March, John Martin Okoth Ochola was appointed Inspector General of Police. His predecessor, Kale Kayihura, was arrested three months later, brought before a military court and charged with failing to protect war materials, failing to supervise police officers and abetting the kidnap and forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees. He has been released on bail but charges remain pending. No charges have been brought against him for commanding units involved in torture or extrajudicial killings, despite credible allegations of such crimes during his leadership.

In April, Okoth Ochola ordered that the Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja, Eastern Uganda be redesignated from a special force operation base to a standard police station. This was significant because Nalufenya had been notorious as a place of torture and long-term detention without trial. In May, Okoth Ochola disbanded the police Flying Squad Unit, established in 2013 to counter armed robberies, but which has been implicated in multiple serious allegations of extortion and torture.

On August 13, Ugandan police and military arrested and beat six opposition members of parliament, including Francis Zaake and Kyagulanyi, and 28 other people in advance of the August 15 by-elections in Arua. Prosecutors charged all 34 with treason for allegedly throwing stones at a presidential convoy on August 13. The media reported that men in military uniform took Zaake, who was unconscious, to a hospital in Kampala and abandoned him. Kyagulanyi alleged Special Forces Command soldiers tortured him while was detained for 10 days by the military. He was also charged before a military court for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, but the charges were later dropped. Authorities promised to investigate Kyagulanyi’s allegations of torture.

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