19 April 2009
By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – A recently-released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda” details U.S.-sponsorship and involvement in providing torture training to Ugandan security agents. The most recent incident of U.S. involvement happened in December 2008, under the Bush Administration.
The HRW report notes the lack of initative from foreign partners to address the serious human rights violations occurring in Uganda. It also argues that “[t]he Ugandan government’s use of unlawful detention and torture against terrorism and treason suspects violates domestic and international human rights law. And its unwillingness to take action against those responsible, particularly JATT (the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force), is a dereliction of the government’s international legal obligations.”
In contravention to domestic law, the Leahy Amendment (a provision of U.S. appropriations legislation prohibiting U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity), the U.S. provided $5 million in training to Uganda agents. Ugandan officials subsequently punched, whipped, caned, and used electric shock on hundreds of suspects. A HRW interview with Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Brigadier James Mugira, confirmed that Ugandan agents received training from the U.S.
The HRW report concludes: “Given the oft-cited allegations of torture and illegal detention by JATT and CMI (the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence in Uganda) by local and international human rights organizations, and by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, it is unclear how these individuals could have been eligible for U.S. funded training.”
Human Rights Watch is a major New York-based organization that documents human rights abuses around the world.
For more information, please see:
Black Star News – U.S. Provided Torture Training to Uganda – Report – 19 April 2009
Human Rights Watch – Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda – 8 April 2009
Human Rights Watch – Open Secret: Role of Uganda’s Foreign Partners in the Military and Security Sector – 8 April 2009