UHRC Awards Victims of Security Brutality in Acholi UGX 67M

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) tribunal has awarded Shillings 67 million to seven victims of security brutality in the Acholi and Lango Sub-regions. The tribunal announced the awards on Monday during a session held at the Commission’s regional offices in Gulu City.

The victims suffered human rights violations committed by Police officers and Uganda People Defence Forces soldiers between 2004 and 2009 resulting in death, injuries, and loss of property. The UHRC Chairperson Mariam Wangadya, who presided over the four-panel member tribunal, noted that they found substantial evidence of rights violations against the complainants.

In one of its rulings, the tribunal awarded Shillings 35 million in compensation to the family of Thereza Adong, a resident of Omiya Anyima Sub-county in Kitgum District for her gruesome murder by UPDF soldiers.

She noted that the victim was arrested on January 27, 2004, on allegations of charming one Paska Acan and was subjected to torture by police officers before UPDF soldiers from Omiya Anyima UPDF military detach got involved and shot her dead.

“This was an intentional shooting as evidenced by the testimonies of the complainant and his witnesses. The tribunal is satisfied that the respondent’s agent was on official duty as a soldier. The tribunal, therefore, holds that the state agent unlawfully caused the death of Adong Tereza, which was a violation of her rights,” reads part of the ruling.

“The respondent is ordered to pay the estate of Adong Tereza a sum of 35 million Shillings as general damages for the violation of Adong Tereza’s right to life,” she ruled.

In a separate ruling, the tribunal awarded George Bush Okot and Stephen Bongomin, both residents of Lapul Sub-county in Pader District Shillings 17 million for the torture they underwent at the hands of UPDF soldiers on March 3, 2007.

Other victims include Private Francis Okello Ongom, a serving UPDF officer who was awarded Shillings 4 million for being tortured by his fellow soldiers in November 2006 in Nisitu in South Sudan, and Cipriano Oola and Samuel Olal who were awarded Shillings 6million for being tortured by UPDF soldiers in 2009 from Pabbo in Amuru District.

Wangadya however told Uganda Radio network in an interview that funding shortfalls among other issues have affected the operation of the tribunal leading to the slow delivery of justice. She says the resumption of the tribunal hearing follows the recent funding they received from Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) amounting to Shillings 80 million to finance five sessions across the country.

Wangadya appealed to people who brought their complaints to the commission to be patient and have hope that they will receive justice. John Owor, whose wife was shot dead by UPDF soldiers in Kitgum district in 2004 lauded the tribunal ruling, saying that justice has finally been served.

“I feel satisfied with the ruling and happy that justice has been served. This has been long overdue since 2015,” he said. This is the first time in two years that the tribunal is convening sessions to hear and deliver rulings on cases lodged before the commission on human rights violations.

The UHRC tribunal resumed its operation early this month and is expected to handle 50 cases in Kampala, Gulu, Moroto, and Soroti. In Gulu city, it will handle 18 complaints, all of which are against the Attorney General while five of the cases will be for delivering decisions, eight for defense hearings, three for further hearings, and one for amicable settlement.

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