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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Uganda denies state torture
Museveni at Lira Hospital
President Museveni has been busy with a brutal rebellion in the north
A human rights organisation has accused the Ugandan authorities of using torture as a method of suppressing political opposition.

A report from Human Rights Watch claims that since 2001 there has been an escalation of human rights violations by security and intelligence agencies.

Forms of torture include beatings with hammers and sticks with protruding nails and electrocution.

The torture claims are denied by an adviser to President Yoweri Museveni.

John Nagenda said all such reports were investigated and taken before the courts and described the report as "rubbish born of a fevered imagination".

Safe houses

The BBC's WIll Ross in Kampala says the report, State of Pain: Torture in Uganda, will make uncomfortable reading for the government.

It says that Uganda set up a shadow sector of security operations to contend with armed rebel groups and crime but now, the security system serves to punish and deter political opposition by detaining and torturing supporters of the political opposition.

After interviewing former and current prisoners, Human Rights Watch says other forms of torture include genital and body mutilation and the tying and suspending of victims from the ceiling.

Human Rights Watch reports that victims are blindfolded and taken to unknown locations known as safe houses which it claims have become an established feature of the Ugandan system of detention.

The New York-based organisation says the safe houses provide Ugandan security and military forces with the opportunity for unseen torture and interrogation of suspects.

In one instance the report highlights the case of a woman who had campaigned during elections for an opposition candidate.

It claims after arrest, the woman was repeatedly raped by soldiers and her breasts were pierced with needles.

The report claims that in order to force confessions, some suspects have been shown cages full of snakes, threatened with death and forced to load dead bodies onto trucks.

Human Rights Watch says in Uganda there is a political climate of suspicion that political opponents are inevitably engaged in armed rebellion.

The army has been locked in a 17-year rebellion in the north of the country with the brutal Lord's Resistance Army.

The BBC's Andrew Harding
"This region is still seething with anger and frustration"

Uganda's opposition join forces
16 Feb 04  |  Africa
Q&A: Uganda's northern rebellion
23 Feb 04  |  Africa

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