Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) together with other civil society organizations under the umbrella of the coalition against torture (CAT) have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on the Compensation of Torture Victims in a reasonable time of over 3 billion shillings.
This petition comes ahead of tomorrow’s commemoration of the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims that is held every 26th of June in the world.
The organizations demanded that the over 242 torture victims that were identified from the UHRC tribunal process are compensated by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and urged the Speakers office to follow up the road map for the implementation of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 through the creation of a task force.
The demanded unpaid compensations date from 2004 to 2012 and revealed from the UHRC Awards for Violations of Rights.
UHRC Commissioner Katebalirwe Amooti said that torture in Uganda continues to be widespread and has become a pervasive problem which has consequently led to a large and varied group of torture survivors with in the country.
He added that the commission is concerned that torture survivors in the country still face a lot of obstacles when seeking justice and reparation saying that they believe the only way to eliminate the vice of torture is through the implementation of the new law which criminalizes torture and ensures individual liability and compensation of the torture victims.
The organizations therefore stressed that government pays the outstanding compensation awards and the importance of individual liability of the perpetrators as indicated in the new Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 so that compensation awards have a deterrent effect.
They also called for the establishment of a Victims Compensation Fund to compensate victims where perpetrators are State Agents and are unable to pay the compensation and that a strict policy against torture in places of detention and elsewhere is put in place in order to ensure elimination of torture.
Patrick Tumwine the Advocacy, Research and Information Officer at Human Rights Net Work (HURINET) said that there is need for government to compensate the torture victims and that the Torture Act enacted by Parliament is put into practice.
He noted that parliament is fundamental and important in the creation of a victim’s fund because some of the victims are compensated after dying and that it follows up to see that these victims are compensated in the shortest time possible.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca noted that advocacy after laws needs to be improved upon saying that with the enacted law on torture, the society is not yet aware that the law was passed and are actually ignorant of their rights.
She pledged to put in place an action plan to see that the torture victims are compensated and also to forward the petitioned matters the Parliamentary Committee of Legal affairs to see how to further the compensation process.
However she advised that petitioning organizations to get in touch with the minister of Justice to ensure that the funds and budgeted for.
Today’s UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims will be commemorated by the country under adopted theme of “Implement the Anti-Torture Law Now: Compensate Torture Survivors”