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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      


Rape, extrajudicial violence, and torture and abuse of suspects and detainees by security forces are persistent problems, and prosecutions of the perpetrators are rare. Prison conditions are poor, as the prison system is operating at about three times its intended capacity, with pretrial detainees constituting nearly half of the inmate population.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Uganda

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Uganda.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uganda

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 August 2021]


Human rights organizations, opposition politicians, and local media reported that security forces tortured dissidents as punishment for their opposition to the government. On April 24, local television stations showed images of opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Francis Zaake receiving medical treatment at the Iran-Uganda hospital in Naguru. The UPF and Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) had arrested Zaake at his home in Mityana District on April 19, accusing him of violating COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings when he distributed food to his constituents. On May 6, Zaake told journalists that upon his arrest, UPF officers under the watch of Mityana District police commander Alex Mwine and regional police commander Bob Kagarura beat him with sticks and batons, kicked him on his head, and then ...

On April 4, local media reported that on the night of April 3, UPF, LDU, and UPDF officers had raided a community in Elegu Town, driven dozens of persons out of their houses, beaten them with sticks and iron bars, and forced them to remove their clothes, roll in the dirt, and for some specifically to rub the dirt on their genitals, accusing them of violating the curfew.


Conditions in detention centers remained harsh and in some cases life-threatening. Serious problems included overcrowding, physical abuse of detainees by security staff and fellow inmates, inadequate food, and understaffing. Reports of forced labor continued. Most prisons did not have accommodations for persons with disabilities. The government operated unofficial detention facilities where it detained suspects for years without charge.

MP Zaake sues top security officers over torture as opposition petitions UN

Anthony Wesaka & Juliet Kigongo, Daily monitor, 7 May 2020

[accessed 7 May 2020]

In his affidavit to support his torture claims, the youthful legislator, currently receiving treatment at Surgical ward in Rubaga hospital, claims his captors sprayed unknown substances into his eyes, causing him unbearable pain.

"DPC Mwiine together with RPC Kagarura and Haruna Mulungi Nsamba, started kicking me. I heard the RPC telling one of the officers to make sure that I don't see. I saw him handing over two cans containing unknown chemicals and spread them into my eyes. I felt a lot of pain, itching and I lost my sight," Mr Zaake contends.

He continued:" As they were putting me onto a police truck, the officers repeatedly mocked me saying Baganda are a problem here and that 'you think you will ever rule this country' and that they were to teach me a lesson."

He Was Distributing Coronavirus Aid. The Police Detained And Tortured Him

J. Lester Feder, BuzzFeed News, 8 May 2020

[accessed 10 May 2020]

Francis Zaake was in the shower one evening last week when the police broke down his bedroom door. He was dragged away in handcuffs and later suspended from his arms and legs inside a truck so that every bump on the two-hour drive stretched his limbs to the breaking point. The officers blinded him with a substance he thought was pepper spray. Almost three weeks later, he still can’t open his eyes, he told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview from Uganda.

This was just the first of 10 days of torture. Zaake’s alleged crime: delivering food to neighbors left hungry by the coronavirus lockdown.

10 police officers charged with torture of women at Elegu border, remanded

George Okello, PML Daily Senior Correspondent, 7 April 2020

[accessed 12 April 2020]

The police officers together with their colleagues from UPDF brutalised a group of women at Elegu border on Thursday, April 2.

The women were orounded up in a lodge owned by the chairperson of the Cross Border Traders Cooperative, Auma Margaret.

According to Auma, Police, and LDUs in Elegu allegedly pulled out women and some men from their homes, beat, and forced them to roll in the mud after asking them to put off their clothes. Some were allegedly asked to rub the mud in their private parts as the officers, laughed at them.

The group were accused of flouting the presidential directives on containing coronavirus.

Curfew Enforcement: 16 Police, Army Officers Arrested over Aggravated Torture

Kampala Post Reporter, Uganda, 6 April 2020

[accessed 6 April 2020]

A total of 16 police and military officers have been arrested over alleged aggravated torture of civilians for flouting the curfew and ban on public spaces.

The 10 police and six military officers are accused to have beat up residents of Lorokwo West in Elegu Town Council, Amuru district on April 2 at around 8pm. Fred Enanga, one of the Joint Security Taskforce Spokespersons says while on patrol, the security team targeted the area “due to much congestion and an uncontrolled setting of makeshift structures.”

“Using a heavy handed approach to disperse the occupants, the patrollers kicked doors open and dragged the occupants out and some fell in the muddy surfaces. Several vulnerable women and a few men were injured in the process,” Enanga said in a statement on Monday. A total of 38 victims, including 31 females and 7 males were traced, and their statements recorded.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Rape, extrajudicial violence, and torture and abuse of suspects and detainees by security forces are persistent problems, and prosecutions of the perpetrators are rare. The alleged torture of Bobi Wine and other opposition politicians in August 2018 led to protests against police brutality. The government said it would investigate Wine’s allegations of torture, but no charges had been filed as of 2019.

Prison conditions are poor, as the prison system is operating at about three times its intended capacity, with pretrial detainees constituting nearly half of the inmate population.

 How Rwandan mother endured painful pregnancy inside Uganda’s torture chambers

Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti, The New Times, 29 April 2019

[accessed 12 May 2019]

Dusabimana says that while in prison they were tortured and starved.

 “We were repeatedly beaten, we had to report every morning for a parade  and whoever delayed could be beaten, women were beaten on their own behalf and on behalf of their children,” she said.

Dusabimana was subjected to torture throughout her pregnancy period, and says that it was by God’s mercy she did not have a miscarriage.

“Because I was pregnant, I had complications and other inmates called for police to inform them that I was sick, I was rushed to hospital and got basic treatment, the medics gave me medicine and I was taken back to prison,”

“I endured severe pain, lived bad life and ate badly the entire time spent in prison. When I had signs of labour, I was taken to hospital and delivered. I spent one day at hospital and I was brought back to prison,” she says.

She says, there are many Rwandans still detained in Ndorwa prison.

Addressing Torture in Uganda -- Five Actions Police Can Take

Maria Burnett, Director, East Africa and the Horn, Human Rights Watch HRW, 26 June 2018

[accessed 26 June 2018]

Uganda’s new police leadership has expressed a willingness to address police torture and mistreatment of suspects, a welcome commitment. Between 2012 and 2016, the Uganda Human Rights Commission received over 1,000 allegations of police-orchestrated torture, but the real numbers of those tortured in custody are likely much higher.

The promises of Uganda’s police leadership to take on torture are good news. But without learning from the past and taking robust action to address abuses, police torture will continue unchecked.

Torture looms high in Uganda

New Vision, 26 June 2018

[accessed 26 June 2018]

In May last year, Ugandans were left in shock on seeing the gruesome pictures of Geoffrey Byamukama, the Kamwenge mayor, who had been tortured by the Police over allegations that he had had a hand in the murder of slain former Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi. In the days that followed, more pictures of tortured inmates at the dreaded Nalufenya detention facility trended on social media. Ironically, many of them were later freed by courts due to inadequate evidence to pin the suspects. The facility was recently closed by the new IGP Ochola Okoth. However, Byamukama and others were not the fi rst and may not be the last, for torture remains the most recorded human rights violation in Uganda, with the Police accounting for a majority of the incidents. According to a Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) report released last year, a total of 1,658 torture cases were registered between 2012 and 2016.

Closing Nalufenya will not end torture in the country

Maria Burnett, Daily Monitor, 9 April 2018

[accessed 10 April 2018]

Closing Nalufenya may be a good idea, but it will not address the many cases of torture of detainees, just as disbanding RRU did nothing for Ssekanjako’s family. More than a decade, hundreds of torture victims have told me of sickly similar treatment during interrogations by police officers at various notorious detention facilities. Detainees were beaten for days while in stress positions with their hands cuffed under their legs. Police would beat detainees with batons, sticks, glass bottles, bats, metal pipes, padlocks, table legs, and other objects, often to force a confession

By relying on torture and false confessions, police may well be putting innocent people behind bars for a long time – especially likely given Uganda’s very prolonged remand times – while guilty parties roam the streets.

Police officer accuses boss, five others of torture, theft

Joseph Kato, Daily Monitor, 18 February 2018

[accessed 27 February 2018]

A junior police officer has dragged the commandant of Police Canine Unit and five others to Makindye Magistrate’s court, accusing them of torturing him, fracturing his backbone and stealing his money.

Constable Robert Obeti said Mr Martin Mugume, the Commissioner of Police, ordered his juniors led by Assistant Inspector of Police, Mr Alvelino Ngabirano, to arrest him on Christmas Day, accusing him of dodging duty yet he had explained he was unwell.

Mr Obeti alleges that he was beaten, slapped, kicked and his private parts squeezed by his tormentors and his backbone and joints fractured, costing him more than Shs2m in medical bills.

Uganda Deports 5 More Rwandans After Extreme Torture

Dan Ngabonziza, KT Press, 29 December 2017

[accessed 30 December 2017]

The deportees who looked very tired and weak narrated to media how relieved they feel after surviving death from torture while held incommunicado for weeks in undisclosed detention centres in Uganda.

 “For two weeks, I was beaten up, fed maize flour and tortured while being asked whether I work with Rwandan authorities,” Turatsinze said.

For Dinah Kamikazi, who was arrested along her niece, Vanessa Agasaro, “it was a hell of torture. At one point, I was undressed, soaked in water and threatened with electric shocks. I was told to mention a number of Rwandan officials I work with. All this was done while blindfolded.”

Muslim Clerics Murder Suspects to Sue Kayihura Over Torture

URN, The Observer, Kampala, 14 August 2016

[accessed 15 August 2016]

Eight persons accused of masterminding the shooting of Muslim clerics last year, have instructed their lawyers to file a torture case against the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY - The government failed to credibly investigate violence in which at least 100 people were killed in the western Rwenzori region. Numerous reports suggest that after a July 5 attack on a military barracks and some police posts, civilians were mutilated, tortured, and killed, some buried in mass and unmarked graves, and that government forces may have been involved in reprisals against members of the ethnic group believed to be responsible for the initial attacks.

Despite numerous promises to investigate, no police or military personnel have been held accountable and there have been no credible investigations into killings during protests in 2009 and 2011. In December 2011, police disbanded the Rapid Response Unit but there have been no investigations into the killings or torture by the unit, and one case involving a suspect tortured to death during an interrogation did not advance in the courts. Similarly, no inquiries have been made into cases of people who were tortured or died in the custody of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

The government has also failed to protect street children and investigate abuses against them. Despite a strong legal child protection framework, homeless children face violence, beatings, unlawful detention, and forced labor at the hands of police, including cleaning detention cells and police quarters. Government officials and police also carry out targeted mass roundups of homeless children.

On the streets, homeless adults and older children harass, beat, sexually abuse, force drugs upon, and exploit street children, often with impunity as police neglect to investigate crimes against them.

Police commander sued over torture

Derrick Kiyonga, The Observer, 7 January 2014

[accessed 17 November 2014]

[accessed 3 January 2018]

Natukunda, 32, alleges that as the congregation marched peacefully and unarmed with the petition in hand, police commanded by Ruhunde, violently broke up the procession using tear gas and batons. In his plaint, he explains that in the melee, the police arrested him and continued assaulting him even when he was subdued.

“The police took the plaintiff [Natukunda] into the custody of Rukungiri police station and continued to beat him and directly sprayed tear gas in the plaintiff’s mouth and eyes,” Natukunda says, adding that as a result of the battering, he ended up in Nyakibale hospital in Rukungiri municipality.

Natukunda says the medical officers in Nyakibale found he had suffered grave injuries and transferred him to Nsambya hospital.

“In Nsambya [hospital], the medical report of the 24 May 2013 indicated that as a result of police battering, Natukunda suffered from multiple blunt trauma in the lumbo-sacral region, blunt chest trauma, limbs trauma and acute urinary retention and [he] now uses a trans- urethral catheterization and suffers from post- traumatic disorder for which psychiatric attention is needed,” reads a medical note from the Uganda Human Rights Commission, which has been attached to the suit.

Lawyer sues seven policemen over torture

Siraje Lubwama, The Observer, 13 August 2014

[accessed 14 August 2014]

[accessed 3 January 2018]

The Attorney General and seven policemen, including a regional police commander, have been sued by a lawyer who was beaten up at City Hall last November.

Kiwanuka claims that the defendants – directly and vicariously – battered him on November 25, 2013, as he headed to City Hall to deliver an interim order stopping a meeting meant to impeach Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. The meeting had been called by Presidency and KCCA Minister Frank Tumwebaze.

He says that Ruhweza, then a division police commander, boxed him on the head and in the stomach, slapped and kicked him. After the fracas, Kiwanuka was later bundled onto a police pickup truck and driven to Kampala Central police station and later Mulago hospital’s Casualty ward, where he received “unsupervised and suspicious injections in disguise of first aid”.

The number of torture victims is on the rise

Gilbert Kidimu, New Vision, 28 Aug 2013

[accessed 28 Aug 2013]

David a refugee living in Uganda is a victim of torture having been through one of the worst ordeals imaginable. “One evening at home, we were visited by state supported militia who interrogated me about the reason for giving a bad name to the Government. I was brutally beaten all over my body and later forced to watch as they took turns raping my two sisters.

When they were done, they inflicted burns on them. I was afterwards forced to have anal sex with the whole group of men and then left for dead. Somehow the sisters nursed and helped me recover enough to flee to Uganda. Unfortunately the two girls were both found pregnant and obviously the fathers of their children are unknown.

BESIDES THE REFUGEES, WHO ARE THE MOST TORTURE VICTIMS IN UGANDA? - Suspected criminals and vulnerable groups are the most victims. The brutal manner in which criminal suspects are arrested, detained, and treated is deplorable. The police beat up and torture suspects to make them confess to the crime. The vulnerable group is people who cannot afford treatment.

WHO ARE THE LEADING PERPETRATORS OF TORTURE? - The Ugandan Police has been ranking high over the years as the leading perpetuator. It has always been number one in the reports and it still is.

Hope returns for victim of child torture

Kathy Sundstrom, The Reporter, 16 Jun 2013

[accessed 16 June 2013]

[accessed 8 August 2017]

The Kyampisi Childcare Ministries website says Hope was reportedly kidnapped by witchdoctors from her home in Uganda when she was only a baby. For nearly two years, she is believed to have been kept lying at an altar with her arms and legs tied.

Her blood and parts of her body were said to have been used for sacrifices and she allegedly was given just enough food and water to keep her alive.

She has had the tip of her tongue and the tip of her right big toe removed, teeth snapped off and nine incisions on her stomach.

She cannot walk or talk and her bones and marrow are unmineralised from a lack of exercise, nutrition and simple use. Hope was found wrapped in a sack and lying in a cattle yard. She spent two months in a hospital in Kampala, Uganda's capital, where she received numerous treatments and was given the name "Hope".

Police found her parents, but when they saw her condition, they abandoned her.

Human Rights in Uganda

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 15 February 2013]

After 26 years of President Yoweri Museveni’s rule, ongoing threats to freedom of expression, assembly, and association continue to raise serious concerns. Security forces largely enjoy impunity for torture, extrajudicial killings, and the deaths of at least 49 people during protests in 2009 and 2011.  The government banned a political pressure group calling for peaceful change, obstructed opposition rallies, and harassed and intimidated journalists and civil society activists working on corruption, oil, land, and sexual rights. The notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, still proposing the death penalty for some consensual same-sex activity, looms in parliament. The law criminalizing torture went into force, though challenges to prosecutions persist.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/CR/34/UGA (2005)

[accessed 12 March 2013]

6. The Committee is further concerned about:

(a) the length of pre-trial detention, including detention beyond 48 hours as stipulated by article 23, clause 4 of the Constitution and the possibility of detaining treason and terrorism suspects for 360 days without bail;

(b) the reported limited effect tiveness and accessibility of habeas corpus;

(c) the continued allegations of torture and ill-treatment committed in a widespread manner by the State’s security forces and agencies together with the apparent impunity enjoyed by its perpetrators;

(d) the wide array of security forces and agencies in Uganda with the power to arrest, detain and investigate;

(e) the lack of proportion between the high number of reports of torture and ill-treatment and the very small number of convictions for such offences, as well as the unjustifiable delays in the investigation of cases of torture, all of which contributes to the prevailing impunity in this area;


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - The Anti-Torture Act, which came into force in 2012, prohibits, criminalizes and holds individuals responsible for acts of torture. It expands the definition of torture to include non-state actors and makes information obtained through torture inadmissible in court. If enforced, the Anti-Torture Act would address impunity, enable justice for the victims and reduce torture.

However, torture and other ill-treatment by police remained widespread. Despite investigations by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, no action was taken to hold law enforcement officials responsible for human rights violations to account, or to grant victims and their families an effective remedy.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 4   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 15 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has diminished in recent years due to reduced tensions in the northern part of the country and a government policy to phase out IDP camps. Concerns remain, however, about serious human rights violations related to the unresolved conflict between LRA rebels and the military. In addition to the more widespread LRA abuses, torture by security forces, especially at the local level, occurred despite the government’s assurance that it is not condoned on an institutional level.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 15 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were credible reports that security forces tortured and beat suspects. Many of these incidents occurred in unregistered detention facilities and were intended to force confessions. The UHRC received approximately 58 complaints of torture during the year, which was less than half the number of complaints received in 2004. The UHRC conducted human rights training for the police and military throughout the year.

On April 21, UPDF Private William Bisogo allegedly tied up Opiyo Ajonga in a painful and unauthorized manner. In May authorities arrested Bisogo for torture; there was no further information available at year's end.

On May 4, John Barigye Bakirahi and Peter Agom, UPDF soldiers charged with spying for the Rwandan government, claimed they were tortured throughout their detention in CMI custody. The suspects were admitted to Mbuya military hospital to treat injuries apparently sustained as a result of torture. On September 6, their lawyer stated in a court martial that the suspects' testicles were tied to big stones to extract confessions.

In May the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) reviewed the country's compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture. The UNCAT noted its concern of continued allegations of torture and the apparent impunity of its perpetrators. On May 10, Human Rights Watch and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative released a joint report citing examples of torture such as caning, severe beating, and inflicting pain to the genitals carried out by security forces in the last two years. The government response noted that action was taken against 13 police officers over torture allegations since 2003. Security units involved in torture included the police, the UPDF, the CMI, and the Violent Crimes Crack Unit (VCCU); on occasion, such torture resulted in death (see section 1.a.).

On June 25, the UHRC revealed that the government owed approximately $425,000 (790 million shillings) awarded by the tribunal to approximately 60 persons. The UHRC Tribunal confirmed approximately 22 torture complaints and ordered the government to compensate the victims. However, many complainants had not received compensation by year's end.

On January 19, the UHRC awarded approximately $8,175 (15 million shillings) to Idrisi Kasekedde for torture suffered while in prison in 1998. On February 25, the UHRC awarded approximately $545 (1 million shillings) to Wilson Kimuli for being tortured while in prison in 2000. On April 5, the UHRC awarded approximately $1,090 (2 million shillings) to Gregory Babukika for being tortured by prison wardens in 2001.

No action was taken during the year against security organizations that reportedly tortured prisoners in Kigo Prison or CMI personnel who were illegally arresting and torturing persons to force them to pay their financial debts; in July 2003, the UHRC testified of such incidents before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. No action was taken against VCCU officers responsible for the 2003 torture of Bumali Mubiri and Sam Okiring.

There were no developments in the December 2004 torture of Sam Aniga or the 2003 torture of prisoners at Makindye military barracks.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Uganda",, [accessed <date>]