Big Story : Uganda’s UPDF on the Spot for Abducting, Torturing Suspects in Detention

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Uganda People Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers of the Armoured Brigade in Kasijjagirwa-Masaka are on the spot for allegedly torturing suspects arrested in connection to last month’s protests.

Last month after the Electoral Commission declared the incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni winner of the presidential elections, protests broke out in Masaka.

Security personnel comprised of the military and police swung into action to stop the growing protests, and accordingly, dozens of people were arrested and four others shot dead. 

Some of the suspects who were arrested in the subsequent security operations accuse security operatives of torturing them while in detention Kasijjagirwa military barracks.

Jamir Mawanda, the Village Chairperson of Kimyanya B in Kimanya-Kabonera division of Masaka City is one of the people nursing injuries inflicted on him by military operatives who arrested him on January 18th.

He narrates that his abductors found him near his home in Masaka town, bundled him up in a waiting minibus where he met other suspects. They were later driven to the military barracks at Kassijjagirwa where he spent a week being tortured.

According to Mawanda, he was accused of mobilizing opposition politicians and rioters to organise protests. Mawanda who still has bruises on his body indicates that he was severely whipped with cable wires by the military operatives who demanded that he reveals to them his entire network.

Hakim Kigozi, another victim says that he was detained in the military detention cell for a week after he had gone to follow up on his workers who had been arrested in a security operation in garages around Masaka town.

He indicates that although he was not tortured, he suffered psychological distress in the hands of the military personnel who locked him inside a dark-cold room for six days. 

Kigozi who is a supporter of the National Resistance Movement-NRM blames the Armoured Brigade Intelligence Officer Major Fred Kasimoni Mushambo for acting on false intelligence.  He says that security personnel arrested innocent people who were indiscriminately picked from their workplaces. 

But Major Flavia Terimulungi Mulindwa, the Spokesperson of the UPDF Armoured Brigade Kasijjagirwa in Masaka, has denied allegations of torture against suspects. She says their officers conducted joint intelligence-led operations that are intended to ensure peace and stability in the area.   She alleges that they obtained reports indicating that some groups of people were plotting to burn down several public infrastructures in their protests.

Shifa Kateregga, the Executive Director of Human Rights Defenders Masaka-HURIDEM; local Non-government Organization which advocates for civil rights says they are compiling a report on similar cases of torture related to this year’s general election, which they intend to use to hold the authorities accountable of their actions.