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Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake "beaten, not tortured" Really?

Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake beaten, not tortured  Really?

Mr. Julius Wandera Maganda, Uganda’s Minister of State for East African Affairs (photo above), is reported to have said that MPs Robert “Bobi Wine” Kyagulanyi and Francis Zaake, were not tortured.  “I think torture is a process,” he told a conference of East African civil society leaders. “The experience my colleagues have undertaken [sic] may not at this time be pronounced as torture. They could have been beaten but torture might not be beating.” 


 Upon reading the report in Nairobi’s Daily Nation, my immediate reaction was that these were utterances of a semi-literate man. I posted it on my Facebook Wall, to share my amazement that an MP and cabinet minister could hold such an erroneous interpretation of what was obvious to most of us. 

However, I was surprised by the debate that the post generated. Whereas the vast majority had no doubt about the crime that had been perpetrated against the two MPs (and perhaps others whose stories we have not yet heard), a few agreed with Mr. Maganda. Among those who held the view that this was "just beating" and not torture was Mr. William Nyombi Tembo, a former MP and minister in Mr. Museveni's government.
A quick visit to the United Nations online yielded The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which is popularly referred to as UNCAT. This Convention, which has been in force since June 26, 1987, is unequivocal about what torture is. 

Part 1 Article 1 states:

For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as:

  • ·obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, 
  • punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, 
  • intimidating or coercing him or a third person, 
  • ·or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, 

when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. 

It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. 


The debate about the extent of the physical injuries suffered by Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake is irrelevant. 



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