Lira—August 11, 2020: Activists and local leaders have called for the arrest of Kole Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Yohana Omara Olweny and his bodyguards following the death of a dumb and deaf man three months after he was severely tortured.
Ronald Opio, a resident of Kakoge in Lira City West Division, passed on yesterday following the alleged torture at the beginning of the lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic.
Opio breathed his last yesterday from Lira Regional Referral Hospital, where he was admitted because of the wounds he sustained on his back. The deceased was brutally beaten by the bodyguards of Yohana Omara Olweny.
On that fateful evening, Opio left his home to grab something to eat from a nearby local restaurant around Kakoge but the RDC’s security guards rained canes on him even without demanding for explanations from him for moving beyond the designated curfew time of 7pm.
The bodyguards probably did not know that the young man had hearing impairments and could not equally speak but took him for an “event citizen” violating the presidential directive on Covid-19.
During the initial lockdown announced by President Museveni on March 18, 2020, the President barred movements (imposed a curfew) from 7pm till 6:30 am; it has however been amended to start at 9pm each day.
Mathew Omara, a councillor representing Persons with Disabilities to Lira district Council is among the leaders who are very bitter about the demise of Ronald Opio Omara. Mr Mathew is now demanding for the arrest of the Resident Commissioner of Kole Yohana Omara Olweny and his bodyguards for causing the death of his ‘brother’.
Omara alleged that failure to apprehend the suspects would be a complete injustice on the PWDs and an insinuation that there is a selective application of the law in this country.
In April, just a month after the alleged torture, TND News investigated the challenges faced by PWDs during Covid-19 and realised that curfew and other measures imposed by government had a devastating effect on their livelihoods.
According to the Anti-Torture Act of Uganda 2012, torture means causing great physical or mental pain or suffering to a person who is held in detention. This can be done by doing something to a person, but also indirectly by not doing anything to stop or prevent torture.
This can be done by doing something to a person, by ordering a person to do something, but also indirectly.
Torture is done to force a person to give out information or to do something, or as a punishment. Torture can be physical or mental, and can be done by a public official or by a private individual.
Section 4 of the same Act talks about criminalisation of torture-:
(1) A person who performs any act of torture as defined in section 3 commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for fifteen years or to a fine of three hundred and sixty currency points or both.
(2) A person shall not be punished for disobeying an order to undertake actions amounting to torture, cruel or inhuman treatment
Meanwhile, by last evening, a post-mortem was yet to be done to a certain the cause of death.
This contemporary newspaper also understands that there is an ongoing mediation between the family of the deceased and the RDC aimed at reaching a mutual position and probably to have the family compensated.
The RDC in his reaction last evening on local FM stations in Lira City said he was remorseful about the incident and said he was considering giving support to the family of the deceased.
But Mathew Omara insists that the perpetrators should be investigated by police and cause their arrest.
He also faults Lira RDC, Milton Odongo for not taking a keen interest in the case which he says, “is a pure violation of rights of a PWD”.
Mr. Odongo has not commented on the matter yet.