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EU demands end to torture in Uganda after images of author stir anger

THE European Union on Monday demanded punishment for perpetrators of torture in Uganda after images of a recently detained author circulated in domestic media showing marks on his body, eliciting public outrage.

Last week, media published images and accounts of award-winning author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 33, who told of what he said was his torture during his incarceration by the security services.

The EU delegation in Uganda said it shared the public anger about ‘reports of torture, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, harassment as well as attacks against human rights defenders.’

‘Those who violate the laws of Uganda should be held accountable and personally liable for their actions,’ the delegation said in a statement.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga did not respond to a telephone call from Reuters seeking comment.

President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the east African country since 1986, has long been accused by the opposition as well as some Western governments and pressure groups of using security forces to intimidate and harass opponents, critics and rights activists.

The government usually denies such accusations saying most are false while in the cases where abuses have been committed, the perpetrators have been punished.

Rukirabashaija, a satirical novelist, was detained on December 28, his lawyer said at the time, and held for nearly a month until a court ordered his release on charges related to criticism of long-serving President Yoweri Museveni.

For much of the time he was held incommunicado in an ungazetted detention facility, his lawyer said, and was only produced in court after widespread domestic and international pressure including by the United States and the European Union.

The author told a television station he was punched in the stomach, kicked, hit with gun butts and made to dance endlessly, adding that his torturers used pliers to tear pieces of flesh from parts of his body.

Images of his body published by online outlets and on television showed extensive marks on his back, legs and other parts. The images stoked widespread denunciation among Ugandans on social media.

On Friday, the US embassy issued a statement demanding prosecution of security personnel engaged in torture.

Rukirabashaija said those who detained him had asked him whether he was being sponsored by some people at the US and EU delegation embassies, he told the TV outlet.

The novelist, who last year won the PEN Pinter Prize for international writers of courage, is best-known for The Greedy Barbarian, a novel about corruption in a fictional country widely interpreted as a satire on Museveni.

 

 

Source
Elias Biryabarema/Reuters

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