Boda Boda Riders Lose Compensation Case Against Government

The High Court in Kampala has dismissed with costs a case in which two Boda Boda riders sued the government seeking compensation for alleged torture.

Ronald Muhereza and Michael Nyesiga petitioned the court in 2016 seeking redress and compensation for the violation of their fundamental freedom from torture, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, right to property, right to carry on any lawful business or trade, the right to livelihood and an adequate standard living.  

They argued that on July 13th, 2016, they were ferrying passengers on Entebbe Road when they were suddenly and violently attacked by policemen.

Court heard that they were beaten for following opposition politician Dr. Kizza Besigye to the Forum for Democratic Change -FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi. They add that their businesses were affected after police impounded their motorcycles. 

The court also heard that the actions of the respondents were high-handed, unlawful, and unconstitutional and that Muhereza and Nyesiga suffered physical harm, damage, and loss following their beatings by police and the disruption of their business activities.

In response to the case, the Attorney General who was being represented by Patricia Mutesi the then Assistant  Commissioner but now a Judge of the High Court opposed the case denying the allegations and adding that they were not entitled to the orders sought.

Mutesi said the applicants had alleged that the acts of Police were severe and amount to torture but did not adduce any medical report as evidence of the said torture or injuries sustained.

In his Judgement delivered via email, Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana agreed with the Attorney General and dismissed the case.

He says, the applicants largely relied on newspapers and articles written by different media houses to show that they had been beaten by police officers and suffered severe injuries to date, but this did not validate their claim before the court.  Ssekaana says the applicants had a duty to specifically prove to this court that they were victims of that reported police brutality. 

“According to the articles presented by the plaintiffs as evidence in this court, it is clear that there were reported incidents of beatings by police officers against the supporters of opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye as well as innocent civilians who were watching Dr. Besigye. The same was widely reported on across various media houses and widely criticized”, said Ssekaana. 

He added that “the plaintiffs had a duty to specifically prove to this court that they were victims of that reported police brutality. The trial court has a duty to consider the totality of the evidence led by each of the parties. It should then put it on an imaginary scale of justice to see which of the two sides weighs more credibility than the other.”  

According to Ssekaana, the evaluation of evidence by a trial court should necessarily involve a reasoned belief of the evidence of the other or a reasoned preference for one version over the other. 

“The 1st plaintiff’s/Muhereza’ testimony that he was severely injured by the police was wanting. He alleged that he was beaten by 10 police officers, and went to the hospital bleeding and with a broken tooth but does not show the court evidence of a medical report. He also alleged that he was referred to African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims-A CTV where was treated until he recovered but ACTV is not a medical facility and even then no medical report was alluded to or presented to the court from ACTV”, said the Judge.

Ssekaana dismissed the case saying that there was no credible evidence and that their witness statements were crafted to suit a newspaper story. 

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