The Uganda Police Force has taken over the defense of its Inspector General Kale Kayihura who faces criminal charges of torture as an individual.
Makindye Chief Magistrates Court last week summoned General Kayihura and seven other senior police commanders to appear in court to answer charges of torture and inhuman treatment.
The move by court is in connection to the recent beating of former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye’s supporters in Kampala.
Despite the officers being charged as individuals in line with the provisions of the Anti-torture Act, police management says it will use its Legal and Human Rights Directorate to defend their actions in court.
According to the list released by one of the lawyers, Mr Daniel Walyemera, the 20 lawyers have come up as a part of the Network for public interest lawyers (NETPIL), a lawyers’ network with a core objective to represent the poor in court in public interest cases.
The 20 lawyers, who will prosecute Gen Kayihura by way of private prosecution, will be led by Abdullah Kiwanuka from Lukwago & Co Advocates. Other notable lawyers are: Makerere don, Dr Kabumba Busingye, Jude Mbabaali and Mr Daniel Walyemera.
However, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga says the force is still waiting to receive summons from the complainant’s lawyer to begin preparing defence for the officers charged. “Even if they are charged individually, we will be defending them because all of them including the IGP were acting on behalf of the police,” Enanga says.
According to the criminal summons signed off by Chief Magistrate Richard Mafabi, the police chief and the other officers are “commanded by the Uganda government to appear in this court on the 10th day of August 2016 at 10am or soon thereafter as the case can be heard.”
Some of the officers facing torture charges include three commanders who are currently on suspension. They include Andrew Kaggwa who until the suspension was Kampala South Regional commander and Samuel Bamuziibire, the suspended Kampala Metropolitan Field Force Unit commander. Others are Patrick Muhumuza, operations commander of Field Force Unit – Kampala Metropolitan South who is also on suspension Moses Nanoka who was suspended as Wandegeya Division police commander. Also on the list are James Ruhweza who is head of operations, Kampala Metropolitan, Wesley Nganizi, Regional police commander, Kampala North, and Geoffrey Kaheebwa, Deputy Regional Police Commander, Kampala South.
Most of these commanders who the police Director Human Rights Erasmus Twaruhukwa will be defending are already undergoing prosecution in the Police disciplinary court.
The officers are charged with offence of torture contrary to sections 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012.
The private lawyers behind this case allege that Kayihura and his officers, being superior officers of the Uganda Police Force, in various places in and around Kampala, are liable for the acts of torture committed against supporters of Dr Besigye.
Lawyers identify the victims as Joseph Kaddu, Andrew Ssebitosi, Rogers Ddiba and other members of the general public including boda-boda riders.
The officers are also facing a civil suit by two victims of the alleged torture. The two victims, Ronald Muhereza and Michael Nyesiga, are seeking compensation of 50 million shillings each for torture, loss of their motorbikes, work and being humiliated.