Uganda Human Rights Commission Orders Award of Compensation to torture victim

Monday, August 21, 2017 - 23:00

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has ordered the award ofUGX 48,856,500/= (Forty eight million, eight hundred fifty six thousand five hundred only) to Mr Gideon Tugume as compensation for the human rights violations metted upon him. This followed a protracted case in which MrTugume, a journalist alleged to have been shot and tortured by a police officer in 2011 during a scuffle while he covered an event at KibuyeRound About in a Kampala suburb, involving the opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye.

The complaint which Tugume reported to the Uganda Human Rights Commission and was recorded as Complaint No. 51 of 2012 under Tugume GideonVersusAttorney Generalwas finally concluded in July this year (2017). Tugume received justice in an amicable settlement with the Attorney General who represented government after the case which had gone through the rigorous processes at the UHRC including thoroughinvestigations and eventually commencing hearings by the UHRC Tribunal since August 2014.The Attorney General who represented the police and Mr Gideon Tugume wererecently able to reach this understanding of mutual consent and agreement to settle the case out of court under the stewardship of Hon. MeddieMulumba,   who was the Commissioner that presided over the case at the Tribunal hearings for almosta year.

Details of Tugume’s case which he had earlier registered with the UHRC as a complaint of human rights violationwere allegations that he had been shot at by a police officer while he was deployed as a reporter for Capital FM radio to cover news. MrTugume alleged that he had got caught up in a chaotic scene at which police fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse crowds, while holding an interview with the Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura who had come to scene. In his complaint Mr. Tugumealleged that the police officer went on to shoot at him despite pleas that he was a journalist on duty. He also reported harassment torture and illegal detention by police which actions had  allegedly caused him to suffer both physical and psychological consequences.In dealing with Tugumes’s case, the Uganda Human Rights Commission noted that acts of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment against any person do not only contravene Articles 24 and 44 (a) of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution, but are also strictly prohibited under other regional and international human rights standards that Uganda has ratified.

During hearing of his case, the journalist also pleaded that he had lost his job with Capital FM as a result of the injuries that had led to the long period that he spent receiving medical treatment. UHRC noted that the alleged human rights violations against Tugume had also inadvertently impinged on his realization of a range of other rights such as access to adequate health care, economic livelihood and survival for his family. The loss of economic livelihood greatly curtailed Tugume’s enjoyment of his constitutional rights also provided for under Article 40 (2).

The amount ordered by UHRC as award toTugumewas therefore,compensation intended for him to cover the heavy medical costs that he incurred to treat his injuries; effects of torture and suffering inflicted upon him; uncertainty of his career as a journalist hence livelihood and to cover general damagesthat he incurred during the incident and the process of hearing the case.

UHRC therefore,commends Mr. Tugume Gideon for the bold step that he took to report thehuman rights violations metted on him and for persistently following his case up to its final conclusion. It continues to urge all citizens to always report all acts of human rights violations to any of the UHRC country-wide offices nearest to them orto any other body in the justice, law and order sector so that violators of human rights are brought to book and victims of such violations can receive redress.