Commentary & Letters News

Museveni warns security agencies against torture in a letter

Kampala. President Museveni has again written to security forces asking them to refrain from using brutality against suspects and provided what he called guidelines in handling rioters, terrorists and other suspected criminals during arrest or while in custody.
“I am writing to guide you and the public on the two issues of managing rioters, terrorists, criminals and looters on the one hand, and on the issue of the proper methods of arresting suspects and handling them, while in custody, on the other hand,” President wrote to the Chief of Defence Forces, Inspector General of Police and Directors General of Internal Security and External Security organisations on October 23.
The President’s letter comes five days after armed security men were captured on video brutally arresting Mr Yusuf Kawooya on the street in the city centre and hitting him hard with gun butts before bundling him into a van and whisking him away.
The violent arrest went viral on social media and the mainstream media. Mr Kawooya was later found at the Special Investigations Unit in Kireka after a week of frantic search by family and lawyers.
He has since been released after a weeklong interrogation on alleged links to rebels and association with sheikhs implicated in the assassination of other Muslim clerics.
“When I inquired, the concerned people told me that the suspect had been bitten him (okuruma). That is very serious because some of the [suspected] criminals have got infectious diseases. Our officer can be infected in that way and that should be an extra charge put on him,” Mr Museveni said in his letter shared by his press secretary Don Wanyama.
“The appropriate response would have been to box him hard so that he stops biting our officer. That would be self-defence which is very legitimate. Hitting him with a rifle butt after he has stopped biting you, however, is both vengeance and also usurping the role of the punisher (the courts),” Mr Museveni said without naming the suspect, widely perceived to be Mr Kawooya.
The Kawooya violent arrest attracted criticism from minister Frank Tumwebaze, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo and journalist Andrew Mwenda.
Mr Tumwebaze, the Information and Communication Technology minister, castigated the brutality but in attempt to deflect blame from the government, claimed it was Opposition supporters who brutalised Mr Kawooya.
Mr Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, referred to the armed men as goons.
Mr Mwenda, a senior journalist, through social networking site Twitter, said the “impunity is too much.”
In his October 23 letter to security chiefs, the President named acts that security forces should never commit and mentioned categories of people and how they should be handled during confrontation.

Download full Letter

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