Prevention of Torture and Rehabilitation of Victims ACTV- Uganda Experience Samuel Herbert Nsubuga Chief Executive Officer African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims firstname.lastname@example.org HEAD OFFICE, KAMPALA Block No. 39, Plot No. 113Owen Road (Off Tufnell Drive),KamwokyaP.O. Box 6108 Kampala, Uganda Tel: +256 312 263918/ 312 263620 Fax: +256 312 263 919Email: email@example.com Web: www.actvuganda.org
Introduction • African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) is a Non-Governmental Organisation in Uganda dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights with emphasis on the treatment and rehabilitation of survivors of torture . • ACTV commenced operations in 1993 and has two out-patient Medical centres, one in Kampala-Central Uganda and the other in Gulu-Northern Uganda.
Introduction (continued) • ACTV provides Holistic care to Torture Survivors, both Ugandans and Refugees, which entails physical treatment ,psychological treatment, psycho-social counselling, nursing care and legal advice. We also make referrals for specialized treatment and legal redress to our partners, health institutions regarding the former and UHRC regarding the latter , for example. • Our holistic team includes Doctors, psychologist, counsellors, physiotherapists, social workers, nurses and legal officers.
Introduction (continued) • ACTV is one of the 145 torture treatment centres across the globe accredited to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network in 74 countries. • ACTV is also the Current Chair of the Coalition Against Torture (CAT), a grouping of nine Civil Society organisations who together with the Uganda Human Rights Commission collectively advance Anti-Torture causes in Uganda.
Coalition Against Torture (CAT) • The Coalition Against Torture (CAT) was set up in November 2004 as an initiative of Civil Society Organisations in Uganda whose overall goal is to enhance the capacity of Human Rights organisations to effectively advocate for Human Rights using reliable and systematically collected data. • Uganda being party to the International legal instruments which outlawed torture and made freedom from torture a non-derogable right felt that it needed to go the extra step to domesticate the Anti-Torture legislation and hence the birth of CAT to lead this process.
Prevention of Torture • The common adage that “ Prevention is better than Cure” comes into play critically in the work ACTV does. The seven year journey since CAT was formed was basically to criminalise Torture in Uganda by having an Anti-Torture Law in Uganda. • This process included sensitisation of various stakeholders, most importantly in the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS).
Prevention of Torture (Cont’d) • These institutions include but are not limited to the Uganda Police, who still lead the list of perpetrators[see UHRC Annual reports over the years), the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, the Uganda Prisons Service and all levels of the Judicial system. • The Executive and the Parliament of Uganda were also sensitised in this period with the latter having the mover of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture, 2010 bill, Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba coming from its midst.
Prevention of Torture (Cont’d) • The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture, 2010 bill was passed by the Parliament of Uganda on April 26th 2012 and now we await its assent by the President in order for it to become law. • Over the last seven years before this momentous achievement ,the Bill has been disseminated to the various stakeholders outlined earlier. The provisions in the Law will go a long way in Preventing occurrence of Torture by the would be perpetrators.
Highlights of the Bill • Internationally Criminalizing torture and affirmation of the non- derogable nature of this right with strong deterrent penalties up to life imprisonment. • Expounds the offense of torture beyond state actors to include non-state actors. • Emphasizes Individual responsibility for perpetrators for the offense and resultant reparations.
Highlights of the Bill • Places responsibility for Rehabilitation services on the state. Currently, the Civil Society organisations perform the bulk of treatment and rehabilitation of Torture survivors. • Provides no Amnesty for Offense of Torture • Makes all evidence obtained through torture inadmissible in court. • Places Jurisdiction of the offense of Torture in Chief Magistrate’s Court for wider Court coverage.
Prevention of Torture (Cont’d) • Human Rights Awareness of all the Citizens to empower them so that they know this vice and their freedom from torture. • Encourage forwarding Torture complaints to the Uganda Human Rights Commission. • Training of Security Agencies, Media, Health Workers, Community leaders about the Concepts of Torture , its effects and the legal framework is also a prevention mechanism. • Activism: Press releases, reports, use of international and regional mechanisms.
Challenges • The protracted nature of sensitising and disseminating the Anti-Torture bill to various stakeholders mentioned above required large financial outlay, one of the major reasons why it took over seven years for it to be passed by Parliament. Two benchmark visits by the MPs to Burundi and Philippines fully funded by Development Partners formed the bulk of the funds required. • Financial support from the arms of Government was negligible stalling the process of passing the bill. • Specialised Medical Treatment is financially prohibitive, that is surgical operations, and hence many a time, clients are not treated because of this funding gap.
Solutions • Being that now the Anti- Torture legislation is in place, the three arms of Government, Executive, Judiciary and Legislature should consciously create awareness of Torture prevention measures which are clearly spelt out in the Bill to the Public or facilitate the dissemination of the same by providing funds for this important activity. They should commence with disseminating to their respective institutions. • The time is now to put all that is needed at the various arms of government so that implementation of the law is effective and this requires funds for this exercise budgeted for. • Rehabilitation of survivors of Torture should also be consciously included in the Workplans and budgets of the hospitals and health centres.
What should have been done differently? • The Grassroots, or the Public in general and the Survivors of Torture in particular should have been involved more in developing this Anti-Torture legislation. There may be some issues which we, the CSO’s and Government may not have captured to make it a better document.
Key factors to achieve a positive result • Achieving the positive result of having the Anti-Torture Bill passed was first of all making sure we created avenues of engagement with all the stakeholders mentioned especially in areas of Training and Awareness raising about the Bill. Constant and constructive engagement with the Police, Army, Prisons, Executive, Parliament and Judiciary made the difference.
Key factors to achieve a positive result • Secondly, having a champion come forward, in this case, Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba, to front the bill also was a plus. Being that the bill was passed with minimal debate also illustrated that the dissemination and sensitisation of the MPs was thorough. • Thirdly, the Uganda Human Rights Commission should be mentioned here in that they were extremely forthright and focused towards attaining this Anti-Torture legislation and the Annual reports which always illustrated Torture as the top Human Rights violation would back them to pursue this cause to its logical conclusion.
Good Practices • A National Human Rights Commission which has rapport with the Government would be an excellent starting point. Take note that it should have teeth to inform government that it is not abiding to the international Human Rights standards and be firm to tell them to correct their ways. • Constructive engagement of the Civil Society Organisations and the National Human Rights Organisations with the Security agencies who are usually the main culprits and try not to have a blame game.
African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims Conclusion In a nutshell, with the collective voice and support of the respective National Human Rights Organisations, the Civil Society organisations and the Governments, Prevention of Torture on our beloved continent would go a long way in putting us on the path to a “ World free from Torture” THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR LISTENING!