In this study, the researchers will analyze how the institutional framework has a direct influence on the implementation of the Convention considering their roles and responsibility in eliminating torture in Uganda. The institutional framework will mean existing mechanisms or bodies that have been tasked with taking on the functions of preventing and prohibiting torture in Uganda. They will include Uganda Human Rights Commission, Parliament, Judiciary, Police, Prisons, and the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Force (UPDF) among others.
Each body has been tasked to promote freedom against torture in one way or another; therefore, the performance of each body has an impact on the implementation of the Convention. Parliament is supposed to domesticate the convention, provide for the criminalization of torture and review interrogation rules and procedures. The Uganda Human Rights Commission is supposed to carry out Prompt and impartial investigation and grant any Remedies available to victims; this is the same with the judiciary. Police, Prisons, and the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Force (UPDF) need to Review of interrogation rules and procedures. In such, the study will establish what powers the institutions have and how they can properly be used in implementing the UNCAT to get a “torture-free” Uganda.
1.9 Literature Review
Uganda has a long history of torture, often perpetrated on a very large scale. Thousands of persons have become victims of torture since 1995. In the absence of any official statistics, it is difficult to estimate the overall number of torture victims. Suitable indicators for the scale of torture are the number of victims treated by ACTV and of torture-related complaints submitted to the Ugandan Human Rights Commission (around 75% of which are commonly upheld by the Commission).
Uganda ratified the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) in 1987. It subsequently domesticated it in 2012, by enacting the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act. The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act provide a comprehensive definition of torture. It also makes torture a criminal offense, provides sanctions for the offense of torture and regulates the use of information obtained by means of torture.
One of the most striking features of the understanding attached to the convention is the alteration of governing standards. The Act also made history when it held government officers individually liable for the offense of torture. It is worth noting that Uganda Human Rights Commission reported in its 16th Annual Report that the torture cases against police officers tremendously reduced following the legislation for personal liability for acts of torture. Previously, these acts would be litigated only against the State and only in as far as they were committed by the government security agencies in the course of their duty. In fact, parliament has gone ahead to demand for the prosecution of police officers over torture. The speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga noted that the acts depict total disregard of the prevention and prohibition of torture Act by the police force.
Further, the Act bestows duties, responsibilities and rights to various persons including State actors, non-State actors, and the public at large. The Government of Uganda, partnering with the Uganda Human Rights Commission in concert with various State and non-State actors has developed a road map for the implementation of the Act. Annual performance reviews are done during the commemoration of the UN Day in support of torture and other cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In addition, there is also in place a coalition of State and non-State actors committed to eliminating torture. Through this coalition, the Government has put in place various structures and officers responsible for promoting human rights and this includes protection from torture. These include the Uganda Human Rights Commission and its secretary General, the Parliament Committee Against torture and the rehabilitation center Kampala. There is a cabinet sub-committee on human rights, the parliamentary committee on human rights this one is headed by Honorable Kamateeka Jovah from Mitooma constituency, a human rights desk in the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs. There are plans to set up more such desks in all government agencies. The police have been provided with a directory for human rights and legal advisory services.
This notwithstanding, the institutional framework still faces challenges in implementing the already domesticated law. These challenges include;
There is no explicit right to reparation for torture that would facilitate access to justice for victims, in particular by using the definition of torture, providing for simplified procedures taking international standards into account, and stipulating adequate forms of reparation. Victims may bring claims before the courts but there are a series of legal obstacles, including short statutes of limitations of two years for bringing cases against the State, excluding recourse to the courts for a large number of torture victims. While cases can still be brought before the UHRC (there is a 5-year limitation period which can be extended), this does not apply to victims of torture pre-1995 who are left without access to justice, contrary to international standards. A further obstacle is that there is no State system providing legal aid for pursuing claims before the courts. Although court fees can be waived for “paupers”, access to the courts is beyond the means of most torture survivors.
There is a lack of victim and witness protection. There is no law providing for effective victim and witness protection, or a program to this end. Victims and witnesses continue to face intimidation and harassment, which impacts adversely on the ability to pursue cases even when the law guarantees their protection.
It is always much more difficult to assign criminal responsibility than it is to establish that a human rights violation has taken place. The rules of evidence and standards of proof will be needed in any criminal inquiry
Impunity is one of the reasons as to why the enjoyment of freedom from torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment remains a myth in Uganda. It has been argued that the Police should be compelled to stop using procedures that taint the voluntariness of an accused and other individuals to provide evidence. The procedure from arrest to the production of a person in court from plea should be streamlined to avoid human rights violations.
the use of torture by officials as an interrogation tool is due to lack of effective alternatives for investigating crime and the officials are often unaware of studies that have shown that torture is a very ineffective way of obtaining reliable information. I the assessment that lack of effective alternatives for investigating the crime as a cause of torture I agree with but disregard the assessment that officials are unaware of studies that have shown torture as an ineffective way of obtaining reliable information. As a way forward, the government should opt for advanced scientific methods of obtaining valid confessions from suspects rather than using torture to obtain confessions. The Government should adopt the use of forensic science and technology which are quick means of obtaining information.
It has also become clear that most survivors lack financial security as a result of injuries because they commonly do not have the necessary capital and/or are unable to earn as before. All survivors stress the need for compensation, treatment and justice. They emphasize that the perpetrators of torture ought to be punished, and criticize the prevailing impunity. Survivors express serious reservations about apologies if not accompanied by accountability and compensation. Legal help and social and economic rehabilitation are equally mentioned as crucial means that would help them to address or even overcome some of their difficulties. To the extent therefore that the framework does not make manifest the wants and needs of the survivors of the torture, it becomes difficult for the latter to trust the former’s ability to dispense justice.
It has been suggested by Ntungwerisho that the cycle of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment can be broken through ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Prevention Against Torture (OPCAT) by the Parliament which requires States to establish National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) to conduct independent oversight of the treatment of those in prisons and detention facilities as a safeguard to ensure adherence to treaties and national laws banning torture since most of the torture in Uganda happens detention facilities, this would go a long way in preventing torture. The author’s suggestions are in no doubt recommendable but they are not fulfilling in achieving the goal of eradicating torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment which the researcher seeks to address. Victim and witness protection programs should be strengthened to enable the victims of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment to report such acts freely against the perpetrators with fear of their lives and of those close to them.
Interagency coordination and consultation is a proposed measure. This usually requires coordinated action within and at times institutions, invoking different sectors and stakeholders as these are the key players in the field of implementation of the convention thus a coordinated network between these institutions is key to the implementation progress.
Besides, Institutional strengthening and capacity building is also important. These usually involve building the capacity of the staff, identifying areas of policy and practice within institutions that need to be improved and subsequently integrating agreed measures within planning and resource allocation. These can help in equipping the staff with the relevant knowledge about the problem and subsequently also helps in planning especially areas that need urgent attention resources are allocated to such areas without undue delay
A mixed-method research approach will be used during the research. The study is concerned with the analysis of the effectiveness of the institutional framework in implementing the UNCAT in Uganda. The issues therein are best investigated using the ethnography approach and survey approach. Ethnography will enable the researcher to have a complete picture of what is being studied and will likely to lead to new insights. The ethnographic research approach generally entails carrying out the research from a natural setting, and face-to-face interaction with the participants, among others. For the purpose of this study, this approach will identify the success and challenges of the institutions in implementing the UNCAT in Uganda rather than just disapproving of them. The approach may suffer from many hours of observation, and difficulty in interpreting phenomena. However, these are insignificant compared to its contributions to the study.
Survey design will also be used by the researchers to investigate on the issues. The survey design will enable the researcher do extensive research and it will enable researcher to assess the changes occurring in a given society over an extended period of time. This method has be chosen among other because it will enable one to describe and explain.
The researchers will use documentary analysis as a method of data analysis. One advantage of documentary analysis is that it allows research on subjects to which the researcher does not have physical access. The researchers will look into the different articles and collect data from any specialized and general library for example the Uganda Christian University library, Makerere library, law development center library, Uganda Human Rights Commission library, and the African center for treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims’ library among others.
Besides documentary analysis, the researchers will also use observation since the researchers will be immersed in the natural setting of the study. Focus group discussions will also be used. Focus group discussion allows for exploring in depth the problem being investigated and its possible causes. The researchers have chosen this tool because it will help identify both the potential and actual causes of the problem and then develop appropriate interventions.
In analyzing data on the effectiveness of the institutional framework, a longitudinal and explanatory research design will be used. These will help in answering questions of how the institutions have been significant and what challenges they face in their implementations. A longitudinal research design is particularly important because it will be helpful in providing valuable data regarding the problem. It will also help in determining whether there has been compliance or not. This is through comparing the torture cases from the time it was of the enactment of the UNCAT to date.
This study is will be conducted in Uganda. It is envisaged that time and financial constraints will dictate a smaller sample. Given the fact that the researchers are full-time students, they had limited time to develop the proposal. It is foreseen that time factor will affect the collection of data, compilation and submission the report. Besides, the researchers will meet the full cost of the study. The data collected will form a smaller sample that could be generalization to the entire country but it will be useful for exemplification and developing a debate.
According to Denis, “researchers have an obligation to conform to the ethical values and standards of the society in which they conduct their work.” He further notes that they are to be informed about the legal policy and framework in which their research has to be conducted. The major ethical problem to this study will be the privacy and confidentiality of the respondents. Obtaining a valid sample will entail gaining access to the specific lists and files which may itself be an infringement on the right to privacy and confidentiality of the respondents. However, the respondents will have the freedom to ignore items that they do not wish to respond to (especially during the focus group discussion) to and if they chose to be anonymous, this will be taken with the utmost respect.
1.11 Chapter Synopsis
- Chapter 1: Proposal
- Chapter 2: An assessment of the non-legal aspects of the institutional framework in the implementation of the convention against torture in Uganda.
- Chapter 3: Analysis of the legal regime governing institutional framework in the implementation of the convention against torture in Uganda.
- Chapter 4: Summary of findings, conclusions and recommendation.
In conclusion, there has been extensive literature on torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment. However, most of the writings are concerned with documenting torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and its causes rather than the effectiveness of the measures put in place to curb the practice that this research seeks to answer.