The High Court in Kampala has awarded UGX 250million to a tortured Internal Security Organisation – ISO operative, Simon Peter Odongo who was on May 05 arrested from his home in Kampala for allegedly brandishing a gun on UPDF soldiers.
It was reported then that UPDF soldiers who were on duty distributing food to vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Kampala were accosted by Odongo who was in company of two other people and put them on gunpoint.
Eventually the soldiers withdrew and instead alerted their superiors who organized a joint force of the police and the UPDF who arrested Odongo. He was reportedly kept at the Police Special Investigation Unit at Kireka as investigations into the matter commenced. It was in the hands of the police and the military that, according to documents before court, that he was tortured and also denied access to his family and doctors.
His wife Caroline Odongo Turyatemba filed for habeas corpus [to be produced in court dead or alive] orders which were granted by the judge who was hearing the matter, Michael Elubu, on June 2. However, the Attorney General, the Police and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence who were the respondents in the matter failed to produce him on the decreed date.
This prompted another application by Caroline Odongo whose ruling was delivered yesterday by Dr Alex Mushabe Karocho, a deputy registrar on behalf of the judge. “It’s here by ordered that the subject of the application Simon Peter Odongo has suffered infringement of his fundamental rights of freedom from torture… His right to liberty was infringed,” the court observed. As recourse, the court ordered that the respondents to pay UGX 200million shillings for all the violations he has suffered and another UGX 50million for exemplary damages for contempt of court. The court further directed that government produces Odongo before a competent court within 48 hours of the order. In the event that he’s not produced, the ruling added, “Court issues an conditional release order forthwith.”
Recently the Uganda Human Rights Commission disclosed that government owes torture victims up to the tune of 6trillion in damages awarded by courts of law. In court Caroline Odongo was represented by James Byamukama while the government was represented by Charity Nabaasa.