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IGP Ochola tasked to account for Nalufenya torture acts

Police must go beyond just designating Nalufenya detention facility to a police station and bring to book its errant officers who carried out torture acts on suspects at the facility, a section of Ugandans have tasked the inspector general of police Martin Okoth Ochola. 

Located in Jinja district, Nalufenya police post had been transformed into a special investigations centre of police by the former inspector general of police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura. The facility's image was tainted with allegations and aching tales of torture, human rights violations as well as inhumane and degrading treatment.

IGP Okoth Ochola

The facility was at the centre of controversy after gruesome pictures of Kamwenge mayor Geoffrey Byabakama emerged showing marks of torture all over his body. Byamukama, one of the people suspected of killing former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi, had been severely beaten and could barely walk - with his knee caps literally scooped out. 

After taking over as IGP, Ochola promised to close down Nalufenya saying the facility had badly tainted the image of police. In a message released last wej on Friday, April 27 to all police units and directors, Ochola stated that Nalufenya is to resume operations and functions of a police station with immediate effect.

""I have re-designated the special force operation base at Nalufenya to the operations and functions of a police station as it was before. The director logistics and engineering and the director human resource administration should ensure it functions as a police station," Ochola said.

But Imam Idi Kasozi, a renowned analyst says closing Nalufenya or reverting its status to the police station is not exciting. He says police needs to take responsibility and account for its ugly actions at the facility instead of covering them up with a change in status.

"Closing it is a good step but what needs to stopped are the acts of torture because another 'Nalufenya' can emerge elsewhere. As early as 1997, I was among the people who made a discovery of safe houses and government said they had closed them all. But up to this day, safe houses are still operational. Nalufenya was publicly known, now the danger is torture going to unknown safe houses which is even more dangerous. So we want Ochola who has closed Nalufenya to first tell us what will happen to those officers who tortured suspects. And what of the suspects who were tortured, what will happen to them?", said Kasozi.
 
Richard Jomeo, a Kampala based human rights activist says the closure or transformation of Nalufenya restores hope for Ugandans. He says the government needs to do much more to eliminate torture, especially within the security forces. Jomeo also called for those who were in charge of torture at Nalufenya to be made to account.

"[Closing] it comes with great relief and it’s an intervention that instills some hope into the office of the police by the public. However, it would be commendable if the government of Uganda through parliament domesticate convention against torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by enacting a legislation that shall assist in criminalising torture in this country. And most importantly, as a human rights activist, it would be human enough to implement the legal regimes and by parading especially the former inspector general of police before the courts of law to respond to some of the victims of Nalufenya." said Jomeo. 

Meanwhile, Kitagwenda County MP Abbas Agaba says that Nalufenya as a facility was not the problem, but the actions of the police officers in charge of the facility adding that torture should never be tolerated in any part of the country.

"Even if Nalufenya had stayed as a special investigations facility, it is what was being done at Nalufenya especially torturing suspects that was bad. If that has changed and they have changed it into a police station that is okay, but also we shouldn’t lose focus, the history of what was happening there. It is a positive step because for a police station there are many people who are around and interested." he said.

'SICK BAY'

In March 2018, a special committee that was set up by Ochola to investigate the operations of Nalufenya cleared the facility of any allegations of torture. The committee chaired by the director human rights and legal services Erasmus Twaruhukwa presented its recommendations to the police policy and advisory committee (PAC).
 
In its report, the special committee praised the Jinja-based detention facility for treating suspects well and highlighted that there is no evidence that any suspect has ever been tortured from Nalufenya.

The committee's report has been partly backed up by Grace Bukenya one of the alleged victims of torture at the hands of police officers.

Bukenya formerly  a security guard at  New Nana hostel in Makerere was arrested last year in April on suspicions of being behind the writing chain letters ( bibaluwa)  on which he would base to attack and murder people using machetes and hammers in Masaka district. 

While appearing on NBS television today morning, Bukenya said the only torture at Nalufenya was 'passive torture' and that victims of physical torture were only dumped at the facility and left to die.

According to Bukenya, the physical torture is done in safe houses in Buikwe and in Mbalala along the Kampala-Jinja highway in Mukono district. Bukenya said at Nalufenya, some of the torture included denying suspects sleep by continuously interrogate them for more than 7 hours nonstop.  

Comments

0 #1 Lakwena 2018-04-30 16:17
In other words, Ochola will have no choice but to implicate his former boss< Gen Kayihura, for the atrocities committed at Nalufenya.
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