Human rights watch has ordered the government of Uganda to oblige to the high court order and appoint a coroner to carry out an inquest into the death of a detainee in the custody of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task force.
On February 10th 2010, the high court in Kampala ordered the internal affairs minister to appoint a coroner within three months to carry out an inquest into Saidi Lutaya's death.
Saidi Lutaya, a hawker was picked up from in Kampala's Old taxi park, on November 23rd on the eve of the commonwealth Heads of government meeting. He was allegedly detained by the Joint anti-terrorism task force and tortured to death.
A statement from Human Rights Watch, says that while in custody, Lutaya was struck in the head with a hammer and he went into coma. He was rushed to Mulago hospital from where he was declared dead on arrival.
The human rights watch quotes the staff at Mulago hospital saying that soldiers collected Lutaya's body. But Lutaya's family never received the body for burial.
In December 2009, Lawyers representing Lutaya's family sought a court order to pave way for an investigation under Uganda's inquest act. Under this act, High Court can order the internal affairs minister to appoint a coroner to investigate any death, if the circumstances of the death are suspicious.
According to the inquest act, the coroner has the powers to order exhumation of the body, summon witnesses, gather evidence and forward the evidence to the high court.
But four months have elapsed and the internal affairs minister has taken no action, prompting an alarm from the human rights watch.
Rona peligo, the acting Africa director at Human rights watch, says Ugandan officials should fulfill their promise and legal obligation to investigate deaths in custody. He says that perpetrators must be held accountable for justice to prevail.
Human rights watch warns that if the minister fails to comply with the high court order, the complainant will file a motion to hold the minister in contempt of court.
human rights watch