Violence, beatings, poor health conditions and feeding on one meal a day are a daily occurrence in Ugandan cells. ANDREW KARAMAJI, an activist and a law student has fresh memories of these violations.
Last month, Karamaji was arrested and later detained at Kampala Central Police Station [CPS] before being taken to court to answer some charges.
Karamaji featured prominently during the Civil Society’s anti corruption campaign dubbed Black Monday Movement. Throughout his incarceration period Karamaji was busy making observations regarding the human rights violations mitted on the detainees by police authorities, he shares with the Unwanted Witness-Uganda in an Interview. Experts:
You were incarcerated for your hostile action against the Attorney General; what was your experience in jail?
It is true I was incarcerated, but my actions were not hostile and that is why the state is struggling to find a case to sanction. It tried criminal trespass, assault, but all options couldn’t work.
My action of taking the Attorney General’s speech away, was a peaceful expression of discomfort at the discretion and erosion of rule of law that we have suffered over time and to which the person of the attorney general has been complicit, but my experience in jail was a learning experience, I am disturbed by the outright disregard of human life that Ugandans are subjected to while in detention.
What type of human rights violations did you go through while in Jail?
There is violence, beatings, one meal a day, poor health condition, congestion in the cells, detention for longer than the mandated period, detention of miners together with adults those are the things I felt we should not accept to happen in any self-respecting Country.
How many meals did you take while in jail and at what interval?
One meal at 1pm, everyday, until the next day except for the few who are able to buy drinks or have the people who can visit them with extra food, but the general rule is that one meal per day.
And these conditions are at the Central police station [CPS] you can imagine, what is happening in the Ngora, Kitgum and elsewhere if the Central police station is in that situation?
What was your message to your colleagues the inmates?
Certainly one of the benefits of that prison experience is that I had chance to gather the entire prisoners, and speak to them because most of us were youths and I told them that if you are genuinely here as a criminal, reform, if you are going to be sentenced serve out your term, but reform into a better citizen; if you are here not genuinely, unfortunately those are the majority of the people being arrested for no offences being charged against them.
But I gave them a message that this is our Country, we have a duty on it, you might see yourself here but you have something you can do about resolving the mess we find ourselves in as Ugandans.
Given your activism background, are you optimistic that you will get justice from the judiciary which many describe as being occupied by cadre judges?
Everything that Hitler did was legal, the killing of 6-million Jews, was legal and it was even written as a law, apartheid in South Africa was also in the law. Do I care about the cadres in the judiciary today; no because at the end of the day justice will always prevail over injustice and falsehood, so I am not bothered.