The organization Human Rights Watch has accused a Ugandan security unit
of torturing suspects accused of terrorism. In a new report based on
interviews with alleged victims, the group claims that suspects were
beaten and denied access to lawyers.
Allegations of misconduct
by Uganda's Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force have been voiced before.
But in its new report, Human Rights Watch attempts to provide further
evidence, drawing on testimony from 25 former detainees and over 50
According to the organization, over 100 people
have been detained illegally since 2007, and at least 25 tortured.
Researcher Maria Burnett tells VOA from Kampala that most of the
alleged victims are taken to the task force's headquarters in the
capital's wealthy Kololo suburb.
"Victims assert that they have
been mostly severely beaten during interrogations lasting several hours
that happened over several days. Detainees were beaten with boots,
guns, shoes, batons, chairs were placed on their hands, and someone
would stand on the chair," she said.
Human Rights Watch claims
at least four detainees have died in the past two years, and another
five are missing. The group says detainees have been held for up to 11
months without access to a lawyer or family members.
says donor countries that support Uganda's security forces, such as the
United States and Britain should put pressure on Uganda.
imagine that all of the development partners to Uganda are well aware
of the history of allegations in this location and by this operation
and we encourage them to think seriously about bringing these issues up
with the government and considering withdrawing funds that may be used
by this group," she said.
Ugandan officials have denied that the
unit abuses prisoners. An army spokesman told the AFP news agency that
the army will investigate the allegations.
The Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force was established 10 years ago, drawing on staff from the police and intelligence agencies.
to Human Rights Watch, most of those detained are part of Uganda's
Muslim minority and are accused of being members of the Allied
Democratic Forces, a rebel group based in neighboring Democratic
Republic of Congo. The group says foreign nationals have also been
detained by the unit.