President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has condemned state security agencies for torturing suspects to force confessions.
In his August 14 state of security address, President Museveni told police, the UPDF and other security agencies to respect human rights of suspects.
“People should be in leadership to serve the people, not their interests. When you put on the uniform of Uganda, you must respect the people,” said Museveni.
“People in uniform must not bark at anyone or beat anyone, not even the wrong ones.”
After ordering his media team to play videos of police officers beating Ugandans during the enforcement of Covid19 lockdown restrictions, Museveni preached against high-handedness.
“Traditionally, beating thieves is allowed. However, we are not a traditional army here. The army is a revolutionary army. It would help if you used revolutionary beliefs, not ancient traditional beliefs.”
He also made it clear nobody should be killed by security officers except during battle and of sentenced to death.
“There should be no killing of any Ugandan for any reason apart from if you are condemned by the court of law to be hanged.”
The Commander-in-chief of armed forces further warned security agencies and court against long detention terms for suspects.
“Keeping people in jail for a long period without trial is not allowed,” he noted.
“Jails are not stores for people.”
On torture to extract confessions, the president wondered why any officer would do such an act.
“Why do you beat a prisoner? Is it because you are too lazy to interrogate him? Why?”
He then explained the dangers of torturing suspects to force confessions.
“Torture can cause someone to admit to committing a crime because of fear even though he didn’t do it,” explained the president.
“This will cause the real criminals to continue their crimes because the security forces chose the wrong target. Beating captives is wrong because you undermine your case in court when the court discovers that you used torture.”
Museveni also assured Ugandans he would not sit back and watch security officers taint his legacy.
“Do not damage our legitimacy, history and achievements,” he said.
“I want people of Uganda to know that I will launch a serious campaign to uproot the culture of reactionary behavior in our armed forces.”