President Museveni has blamed the torture of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija and other incarcerated supporters of the opposition on traditional ideas and colonialism that took place between 1800 – 1960s.
Museveni said that during colonial times, colonial security officers used a lot of torture and inhumane tactics to get information from Africans, setting a precedent which some elements in security still embrace till today.
President Museveni made the remarks while replying to a question from Voice of America’s Peter Clottey, during a one on one exclusive interview on Friday
Asked to comment on Kakwenza’s, and other critics’ torture allegations, Museveni said that he has confirmed some incidents of torture although he had not yet followed up on the former’s case.
“It is true that some people were tortured. I have not confirmed on that one (Kakwenza), but I have confirmed some other cases, and I took it up,” Museveni said.
Adding, “You see, part of the problems of Africa is capacity building, we are building armies and security forces. These sometimes come with traditional ideas from the village or they get imported ideas from the former colonialists. For instance, the Police Force which was here during the colonial times; they were using those methods.”
Museveni reiterated his stand on torture, saying that it is not necessary and said that sensitisation is going on within Uganda’s forces.
“The laws are there, but the sensitization to tell them that first of all, torture is not necessary,” he said.
Uganda’s human rights image has for the past few years been deteriorating, with a number of government critics coming out to claim that they had been arrested and tortured, with majority having physical wounds and scars to show for it.
One of the latest incidents that captured the country’s media-space was the torture of writer Kakwenza, who presented several scars on his back and lower body after his stint in incarceration.
Kakwenza was arrested in December 2021 and charged with offensive communication for using social media to disturb the peace of President Museveni and his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Kakwenza would later be released on bail after almost a month in incarceration, he would then flee the country through a porous border to Germany, where he says that he went to get medical attention.
Meeting Political Adversaries
The President added in the interview that he has always been willing to meet with his political opponents because he believes in dialogue.
He said that, “We discuss. We have something called IPOD, the InterParty Organisation for Dialogue, although we have a few that don’t come, but we have been meeting for the last 10 years now. We said government must fund them following a certain formula according to numerical strength in the Parliament.”
The President said that most of the “friction” with the opposition came during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they insisted on meeting the electorate despite the danger it had on spreading the virus.
Museveni said that Uganda has one of the best policies on media which explains the very many radio and media stations around the country.