(STN-MUQDISHO):_President Yoweri Museveni has said members of the armed forces that continue to use torture as a tool of interrogation and punishment against apprehended suspects, are doing so in disregard of his advice.
The President said however, that members of the public have no right to reprimand these officers, noting that he himself will realign the errant officers through sensitization and training, which he has done over the past decades.
Museveni, during a televised national address at State House in Entebbe, revealed that he recently wrote to all commanders of the armed forces, and provided them with guidelines on torture.
He said law enforcement officers still using torture are stuck in the past traditions.
“In our traditional societies, torture was commonly used, and was not only accepted, but was actually encouraged,” he said.
The president said he explained to the commanders in the letter, that torture is not only outdated but could prove ineffective in crime solving.
He then proceeded to read out part of the letter to the media, which he says he wrote to the Chief of Defence Forces and the IGP on 15th May 2017.
“Traditional ideas have their own mistakes in many instances. That is why those ideas that are not consonant with logic should be abandoned,” read part of the letter.
“Torturing in order to extract confessions has three possible mistakes that may even interfere with the fight against crime: You may torture an innocent person, somebody may admit to a crime in order to be spared the torture, and also confessions by criminals are not necessary (if the case is properly investigated).”
According to Museveni, officers who use torture believe that when someone hasn’t confessed then the case in court it weak.
“They want to prove their case in court in their own misguided way. But I explained to them that a suspect doesn’t need to admit a crime if you can prove the circumstances. The confession isn’t necessary.”
While the president says he wrote the letter a year ago, allegations of armed officers torturing suspects peaked just weeks ago.
Museveni said these allegations are being investigated by a committee of the military.
“If anybody was involved in the torture they will be handled appropriately; especially after receiving my letter,” he said.
He added, however, that he doubted his officers intentionally ignored his advice, noting, “I would be surprised.”
But despite possible mistakes by the armed forces, Museveni stressed that members of the public including politicians have no right to reprimand the officers.
The role of correcting these officers, he said, rests entirely on him as the commander in chief.
“My method is by okunyonyola (explaining), not commanding,” he said. “You must convince people to lead them.”
“They may make mistakes but when they make mistakes, that’s when we show up and sensitize them; because that is how we built them up. We were able to build a strong army to defend you, by convincing them.”
He added, “I will not allow your crude ways of backing at them. You have not fought in the Rwenzori; you are just here eating (samosas).
“If you believe these young people have made a mistake, I know how to handle them. I cannot allow people who are enjoying fruits which they don’t know where they came from to destabilize people who are bringing that peace.”
“If you want to know a country without an army go to Somalia and have your human rights there.”