‘Tortured Kalinga was a soldier’

KAMPALA - Acleo Kalinga, a Rwandan who recently claimed to have been tortured under illegal detention in Uganda, was registered as a soldier at a military prison facility.
Kalinga was hospitalised in Kigali after alleged torture in Uganda. (File photo)
Kalinga was hospitalised in Kigali after alleged torture in Uganda. (File photo)

KAMPALA - Acleo Kalinga, a Rwandan who recently claimed to have been tortured under illegal detention in Uganda, was registered as a soldier at a military prison facility.

Kalinga who was released in April alleged that he was arrested on suspicion of espionage on June 7, 2005 and had spent over 16 months in jail under very harsh conditions.

A report released on Wednesday by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) observes that on the alleged date of arrest, military records show that Kalinga was booked at Makindye Military Barracks under army number RPS 19773 at a rank of full lieutenant.

According to the 145-page report, the military records don’t show Kalinga’s unit in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF). The records don’t indicate his offence.

Kalinga, who says he is a medical doctor, claims that he was arrested on his way from Rwanda to Mbarara, Uganda to pick his ill mother and take her to hospital. 

He was released after the intervention of Ugandan opposition MP Hussein Kyanjo, who had threatened to demonstrate against Kalinga’s illegal detention.

Kyanjo met Kalinga at Kampala Central Station after the former was arrested for participating in a violent demonstration against the sale of Mabira Forest, a catchment area for Lake Victoria.

Records also indicated that Kalinga was arrested by the Violent Crime Crack Unit, confirming the man’s earlier claims.

The UHRC report accused the VCCU of arresting suspects and dumping them in police cells and military detention centres without charging them.

Presenting the report to Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, the rights activists complained that military authorities had denied them access to detention centres, also known as ‘safe houses’.

“We go there to investigate and help government.

The issue is not security but gazetting all detention facilities.

Framers of the Constitution gave us the mandate to gain access to those installations,” Margaret Sekagya, the UHRC chairperson said.

VCCU is a unit of the Uganda Police Force created in 2003 to replace Operation Wembley (an armed unit established to counter armed robberies) to suppress the violent crime that was rampant at the time.

Uganda’s Defence and Army Spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, couldn’t answer his phone when by press time.

But weeks ago, Uganda’s State Minister for Internal Affairs, Matia Kasaija, had said:

“I am not aware of the matter but I can assure you we are going to investigate it and whoever is responsible will face the consequences.

“We as government cannot let someone be tortured and held incommunicado for all that long. 

For sure that is not our policy. Probably he could have had a problem with a security person but we are going to find out.”

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