Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is the author of many books, including “The Barbarian”. In December, Kakwenza posted on his tweeter page that Muhoozi is obese and assailed his military credentials, denouncing the purported plans to have him succeed his father. Muhoozi is the son of the President of Uganda His excellency
Yoweri Museveni. In his response, Muhoozi allegedly sent armed men to Kakwenza’s home in Kisaasi. The said armed men surrounded Kakwenza’s Home and a few minutes later, Kakwenza was arrested and taken to a safe house where he was allegedly tortured.
After weeks of detention, Kakwenza was produced to court and later released on bail. After his release, Kakwenza claimed that he was being followed by armed soldiers and was worried about his safety. Following these events, Kakwenza fled the country through Rwanda and has appeared on several television channels including B.B.C claiming the insurgent torture by the Uganda government to her citizens and that where he supposedly calls home is a lions’ den as he no longer feels safe in his own country.
This series of events raises an interesting question as to whether offensive communication and torture are legal offenses, each of which attracts a legal punishment? The public seems to focus only on Kakwenza and ignores the abuse or the misuse of the internet by the said author. The torturer is also a victim but because he holds the higher position of power, he attracts little or no public sympathy.
I posed the same question to one of the street dwellers in Kampala, Mr. Kapio. His response rather shocked me. He expressed genuine sympathy for Muhoozi. In his words, he said “I must say I am deeply sorry for both victims. Kakwenza suffered so much torture, he did not deserve it. The public rightly condemns the actions of those responsible for the torture. On the other hand, I have not seen or heard anyone in the public or international organisation condemning the use of abusive and body shaming language Mr.Kakwenza used in his tweet. At this point in time, it is like two abusive and torturous people both seeking refuge from the law and the public sympathy”.
Another respondent said that both people are victims and deserve public mercy. Both violated the laws of the land and any country that welcomes with open arms any of the conflicting parties is an interpretation that they condone their actions.
Now, this leads me to another question, is a crime greater than the other? For example, is murder greater than rape? Indeed, according to the penal code Act cap 120 laws of Uganda, each crime is different and has different punishment. There are also what we call misdemeanors and felonies. These crimes are characterized by virtue of their magnitude, that is depending on whether they carried long sentences or a heavy fine. Let us just say, there are crimes society may forgive and probably forget however, there are those which cause the insides of society to ramble.
Regardless, they are all crimes. Back to the main subject here, Soldiers working under Muhoozi’s instructions allegedly tortured Kakwenza who, judging from his body tainted with evil scars matches the allegation. The Uganda Constitution provides under Article 24 that no person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. On 26 June 1987 Uganda ratified the United Nations.
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Ten years ago, Uganda’s Parliament enacted the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act (2012). The said Act is aimed at giving effect in accordance with Articles 24 and 44(a) of the Constitution, to the respect of human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment by prohibiting and preventing any form of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Act provides for the crime of torture, gives effect to the obligations of Uganda as a State Party to the United Nation's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment or Punishment and other related matters. Section 2 of the Act, defines torture to mean any act or omission, by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of any person whether a public official or other person acting in an official or private capacity for such purposes as—
(a)obtaining information or a confession from the person or any other person;
(b)punishing that person for an act he or she or any other person has committed, or
is suspected of having committed or of planning to commit; or
(c)intimidating or coercing the person or any other person to do, or to refrain from
doing, any act.
Section 4 provides for punishment for a person who performs any act of torture commits an offense and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for fifteen years or to a fine of three hundred and sixty currency points or both.
On the other, the offense of offensive communication is provided for under s.25 of The Computer Misuse Act 2011 that a person who willfully and repeatedly uses electronic devices to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues commits a misdemeanor and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
In conclusion, the actions of both parties are punishable and each legally injured party should resort to following the law instead of using heinous and uncivilized ways.
The Authur Beatrice Mbabazi is a Ugandan Lawyer and a Co-Founding partner at the Judicial Sound Exponent.