A report on the criminal justice system was issued today by Chapter Four in Uganda. Titled: Uganda: “Where Do We Go for Justice?” The Abuse of the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Uganda’s Criminal Justice System.
“UGANDA’s criminal justice system should cease the practice of intrusive, non-consensual and dehumanizing anal/rectum examination of persons of different sexual orientation and gender identity”, a new report by Chapter Four Uganda, a civil rights organisation, demands.
Chapter Four, a group formed in 2013 was inspired by other civil liberties organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union. It derives its name from the bill of rights, contained under chapter four of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. The report was funded, at least in part, by Canada’s Fund for Local Initiatives.
In its news release, Chapter Four says that it reports on the practice of anal/rectum examination, a routine practice in the investigation of cases against LGBTI persons, usually conducted in the presence of third parties and in unscientific manner is a violation of medical code of practice and a vile affront on the dignity of the persons involved.
‘The practice(s) that we found in this research are deeply troubling. It includes the fondling of private parts and insertion of fingers in the rectum/anus of victims/suspects’ said Nicholas Opiyo, the Team Leader, Chapter Four.
‘The method is unscientific and of no evidentiary value in criminal prosecutions and amounts to torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading practice’ Opiyo said.
“This report reveals profound denial of access to justice for sexual minorities in Uganda,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP, Global Access Project. ‘
The Anti-homosexuality Act, now nullified, resulted in a spike in cases of rights violations including assault, discrimination and extortion. When LGBTI Ugandans sought justice, they faced yet another wave of abuse–but this time from the criminal justice system itself, the very system that is required to protect all Ugandans. Unfortunately, rather than being an exception, the
conduct described in this report is consistent with a deteriorating environment for human rights in Uganda overall’ says Russell.
The media release issued by Chapter four says that the reports highlights cases in which persons of different sexual orientation and gender identity being prosecuted for their sexuality when they seek protection from the criminal justice system, routinely abused and ridiculed at police stations and paraded to the press by police officers, exposing them to wider societal violence and discrimination.
The report cites the case of Bernard Randall, a British national deported from Uganda on January 26th, 2014 after being charged with the offences of having carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature and trafficking in obscene publications. In this particular case, the report notes that after reporting a robbery, suspects were arrested, arraigned in court and weeks later turned into witnesses in a case against Randall who had in the first place sought police protection. In a charge an caution statement recorded at the police, the robbery suspects reveal their blackmail plot against Randall and his partner. ‘The criminal justice system to which he ran for protection became his tormentor for no other reason other than his sexuality’ the report notes.
Between the months of December 2014 and February 2015, Chapter Four Uganda states it embarked on a research project in the districts of Buikwe (Lugazi township), Entebbe, Kampala and Mbarara.
The news release also states that the report focuses on the real life experiences of individuals, who have gone through the criminal justice system on accusations of homosexuality. The report focuses on the actions of criminal justice actors; the people, who on a day-to-day basis conduct investigations, hear cases and examine suspected homosexuals. It also focuses on the lawyers who defend or prosecute cases related to sexual minorities.
Chapter Four Uganda says it traced, obtained and reviewed volumes of documents including police statements, police files, court files, charge sheets, medical examination reports, and media reports relating to sexual minorities between the years 2012-2015. In all, 11 police files and 10 court files were obtained.
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