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PRESS STATEMENT CONDEMNING THE CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT OF MS. NAMATA ANNETTE ‘NANA MWARIFIKA’ BY THE POLICE.

PRESS STATEMENT CONDEMNING THE CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT OF MS. NAMATA ANNETTE ‘NANA MWARIFIKA’ BY THE POLICE.

(Mengo, Kampala 12th July 2019) The Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET), is concerned about the events of brutal assault that were meted out to human rights activist Ms. Nana Mwarifika in for the past months.

 According to media reports, on 24th April 2019 Nana encountered a violent assault perpetrated by a group of police officers as she attempted to seek permission from Uganda Police Force to organize a peaceful protest against human rights violations committed by security forces. In an interview published by the Daily Monitor on 3rd July, 2019, Nana painfully described her ordeal of how Police officers undressed her, touched her groin, stepped and threw her on the ground in spite of the fact that she was six months pregnant. As a result, she sustained grave injuries that led to removal of her uterus hence nearly losing her unborn child.

Unfortunately, when the police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, was contacted by the Daily Monitor on 7th July 2019 to respond to Nana’s predicament he noted that she was attacked on grounds of indiscipline. Mr. Enanga’s account however demonstrates impunity and failure to rein in over errant police officers.

We particularly condemn in the STRONGEST TERMS the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that Nana Mwarifika suffered at the hands of Police.

WE NOTE THAT, the excessive use of force against Nana by the Police violated her right to dignity inherent in a human being as enshrined under Article 3 of the Maputo Protocol. Furthermore, her right to privacy under Article 27(1) of the Constitution was also violated in addition to her unique status and natural maternal function in society which is a right guaranteed under Article 33 of the 1995 Constitution. Article 20(1) of the Constitution states that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual including of freedom of expression and assembly are inherent and not granted by the State. However, in Nana’s case these were trampled upon by the Police Officers.

The abuse and torture to which Nana was subjected to was a gross violation more especially that Article 44 and 24 of the Constitution guarantee the right to freedom from torture as a non-derogable right and no person under any circumstances should be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment no matter the circumstances.

We take note that Nana’s condition required ultimatum respect and protection which was not at all accorded by the “men in uniform” hence violating section 5 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012, which states that torture of a person who is pregnant at the time, amounts to a circumstance aggravating torture.

The occurrence of this incident, amidst several others serves as an indicator to the Government of the need to enforce strict adherence to human rights as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the Human Rights Enforcement Act 2019.

WE THEREFORE CALL UPON THE RELEVANT INSTITUTIONS TO TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF NANA, WOMEN AND OTHER UGANDANS WHO CHOOSE TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY:

We applaud Government through Parliament for enacting the Human Rights (Enforcement) Act 2019 and call upon the following institutions to:

POLICE: We call upon the Police to:

  • Implement the provisions of the Act particularly Section 10(1) which provides for individual liability of public officers who are found culpable in violation of a person’s rights and freedoms;
  • Strengthen capacity building for Police Officers through conducting human rights training programs;
  • Fast track investigations and prosecution of Nana’s tormentors.

UHRC: We call upon the UHRC to:

  • Carry out thorough investigations into allegations of human rights violations by the Police to ensure that justice is served and hold the perpetrators liable;
  •  Intensify monitoring of security agencies on how they exercise their mandate;
  •  Direct Uganda Police Force to compensate Nana for injuries sustained and for loss of her maternal functions;
  •  Continue with sensitization of the public and government agencies on human rights and the Human Rights (Enforcement) Act, 2019. This will in turn empower the public to continuously demand for their rights.

PARLIAMENT:

We call upon Parliament to:

  • Ratify the Optional Protocol Against Torture 2002; that will address the aspect of prevention since the current legal framework mainly responds to crimes;
  • Fast track enactment of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill.

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS:

We call upon CSOs to:

  • Continue promoting awareness on the need to respect all human rights by state security agencies;
  • Continue advocating for the enactment of the Human Rights Defenders Bill is passed into law to protect HRDs in the course of their work;
  • Undertaking strategic litigation to ensure protection of Nana’s rights.

THE PUBLIC: We urge the public take advantage of the Human Rights (Enforcement), Act 2019 and report all incidences of torture to the relevant authorities.

Conclusion:

As LASPNET we commit to continue supporting the protection of rights of Nana and other Human Rights Defenders including joining hands in support of pursuit for legal remedy.

FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY
Sandra Oryema,
Chairperson Board of Directors, on behalf of the Network

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