A Ugandan town councilman and a Ugandan prisons officer have been summoned to face criminal charges of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment connected to the arrest of 20 men at an LGBT homeless shelter in March and their imprisonment for 50 days.
The 20 arrested members of LGBT advocacy group Children of the Sun Foundation (CosfUganda), were ordered to be compensated US$1,341 each by the Ugandan government. Uganda’s High Court ruled that the payments were needed because they had been denied their right to a fair hearing when they were held in prison for 50 days without access to their attorney or a chance to apply for bail.
The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) reported the torture to police but they were reluctant to take it on, forcing the organization to institute private proceedings, HRAPF executive director Adrian Jjuuko stated.
the mistreatment of the 20 arrested men on March 29:
“The beatings and cruel treatment commenced with a raid headed by the Chairman of the local council of the area [Hajj Abdul Kiyimba], who himself was recorded beating the young men, on video. After a lengthy battle in the Court and the subsequent dropping of all charges, the young men were released from prison and the reports of the severe beatings and torture have now led to charges.”
“We believe that because the men are perceived as LGBTQI, the accused Chairman and Prisons Officer and others who may torture, believe they can get away with such acts with impunity. It is time to set an example. That even though LGBTI people are criminalized under the Penal Codes of Uganda, there is no exception or excuse to torture any individual under any circumstances. We also believe that the arrests of the men were unwarranted and without cause. They were NOT arrested for being LGBTQI, yet if they were not perceived as such, they would not have been targets for arrest at all. All said and done if ever there is a case exposing the exploitation of criminalization of gay people, [this] is that case.
“It is time for all countries to decriminalize sexuality and gender identity. All it does is impinge upon basic freedoms and human rights,” she stated.
Jjuuko announced today:
The Chief Magistrates Court of Wakiso has issued criminal summons to the Chairman Local Council III of Kyengera Town Council, Hajj Abdul Kiyimba, and Prisons Officer Philimon Woniala to answer charges of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment meted out against the COSF-20. This is in criminal Case No. 505 of 2020.
This was done under section 12(1)(c) and 12(3 of the Prevention and Control of Torture Act, 2012 which allows private individuals to institute criminal cases against officials accused of torture. We first reported the case to the Police but they were reluctant to take it on forcing us to institute private proceedings.
The issuance of criminal summons indicates that the magistrate is satisfied that the applicants have a prima facie case against the accused persons and that the accusations are not frivolous or vexatious.
Meanwhile the Attorney General wrote to us in response to our formal compliant to the Commissioner General of Prisons about the actions of PO Woniala, stating that the government takes allegations of torture seriously and that investigations are ongoing. We await more in this regard.
The civil case against the Kiyimba, Woniala and the state is also up for hearing on 23rd September 2020.
We think that all or at least one of these processes will result in a decision in favour of the COSF-20.