The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura has snubbed summons to appear before Uganda Human Rights Commission-UHRC in the ongoing investigations on the torture of suspects in police custody. UHRC invited Kayihura alongside heads of other security agencies, the Internal Affairs, Defense and Security Ministers to answer queries regarding the torture of suspects on police custody in connection with the murder of former Police Spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his body guard Kenneth Erau and Geoffrey Mambewo.
The Defense State Minister, Col Charles Okello Engola and representatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Uganda Prison Services and Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF showed up for the meeting but Kayihura was no show. Security Minister, Henry Tumukunde communicated his absence from the meeting, saying he would be out of the country.
WHY KAYIHURA MISSED
There has been a war of words between Tumukunde and Kayihura, mainly thrown around in the press.
Tumukunde has told Uganda Police to own up if they make mistakes, and to improve in the performance. This, pundits claim, could have destroyed relationship between the two – if at all it existed.
But a bombshell nailed this relationship deeper into oblivion after suspect Godfrey Musisi Galabuzi claimed police officials had reportedly promised him Shs 1bn if he implicated Tumukunde in Kaweesi’s murder.
It would have been a tough meeting had the two soldiers met in the same hall to discuss torture – later alone meet each other in the corridors – amidst these flying accusations, pundits claim.
Amooti Katebalirwe, the acting chairperson of UHRC, Tumukunde had communicated his absence from the meeting. The minister reportedly said he would be out of the country.
Katebalirwe said the meeting was supposed to take place last week but “we postponed the meeting last week after the deputy IGP, Okoth Ochola, asked that we move it to this week when the IGP is around to attend it”.
It seems UHRC has not summoned Kayihura in person but through Ochola.
According to Katebalirwe, “The DIGP only told me last evening after I failed to get to Kayihura that he would attend a meeting at Internal Affairs in the morning. We thought he would come later or send a representative.”
On the way forward, Katebalirwe said, “We will communicate another date for the meeting and we hope Kayihura will be in attendance.”
Amooti Katebalirwe, the acting Chairperson UHRC, says although most of the accusations are targeted at Police, they didn’t send any representatives. The security chiefs were expected to appear with responses to the status and command structure of Nalufenya Detention facility, torture of suspects at Nalufenya and other police facilities, prolonged detention of suspects and the Police Flying Squad Unit.
“We postponed the meeting last week after the Deputy IGP, Okoth Ochola asked that we move it to this week when the IGP is around to attend it,” Katebalirwe said. Adding that, “The DIGP only told me last evening after I failed to get to Kayihura that he would attend a meeting at Internal Affairs in the morning. We thought he would come later or send a representative.”
The meeting with the security chiefs follows two on spots checks by UHRC including one led by the UHRC chairperson, Medi Kaggwa to Nalufenya police detention facility where they recorded statements from suspects. One of the suspects interviewed by the Commission is Godfrey Byamukama, the Kamwenge Town Council LC 3 chairperson.
UHRC has postponed the meeting to a later date when the security agencies and ministers will appear with responses to the raised issues. “We will communicate another date for the meeting and we hope Kayihura will be in attendance,” said Katebalirwe.
Uganda Police have been on the spotlight for torturing suspects picked up in connection to the killing of Kaweesi in an attempt to extract confessions from them. The issue came to the fore after some of the suspects appeared before court limping with wounds and scars on their bodies. The pictures of Byamukama lying in his sick bed at Nakasero hospital with wounds on the knees and ankles went viral on social media drawing angry reactions from human rights activists, legislators and members of the public.
This prompted president, Yoweri Museveni to write to Kayihura warning him against using torture to extract confession from suspects, saying some of the could be innocent. At least police operatives have since been arrested in connection to the torture of Byamukama.
In August 2016, Kayihura was summoned to court over the beating up of opposition kingpin Dr Kizza Besigye’s supporters.
But Kayihura was no show. Instead his “supporters” turned rowdy at the court.