I have come across some harrowing tales in my journalism career. In 2012, I discovered the sad tale of how the ‘Wembley squad’ had been interrogating suspects. They would keep them in a room somewhere in the hills of Kololo, completely naked and put a non-poisoning python to scare them to talk about their involvement with the rebel outfit – Allied Democratic Front.
I later discovered, much to my shock, that the Chieftaincy for Military Intelligence had beaten a man to near death, a process that later forced him to cut off his legs. This man, a friend of mine now, still chases the army for compensation for the time he was tortured.
I was still taking turns at recovering from these forms of torture when I came across this confession in a report I have been reading from Chapter Four Uganda;
“After taking the narration, I ask the patient to remove all his clothes and lie naked on a table with one hand on the cheek. After this, I ask them to lift one leg up and keep it there to allow me space to search his private parts around the testicles and the anus for any signs of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Genital warts and signs of abrasions around the opening of the anus. While the patient is still lying down on the table, I insert my fingers into his anus to check the looseness of the anal sphincter. The walls are normally tight and any signs of easy penetration indicate evidence of previous internal involuntary penetration by a large object”
This is a narration obtained from a doctor in Kampala on how he handles people police suspects to be homosexuals. The suspects are sent for this examination which is later tendered in to court as evidence.
The practice, clearly ordinary for the doctor, is part of the judicial system’s way of proving a case against a person suspected to be having carnal knowledge against the norms of nature. We haven’t yet as a country resolved the debate of whether or not to criminalise homosexuality, the closest we came was after violating almost all rules of procedure of parliament, we passed a law that the court would in a few months strike down.
It is and has always been my view that as a country that deals in majorities, we do not have the capacity to legislate minorities. This is because, the needs and wants of the majority cannot reflect those of the minority and worse still in an area as sensitive as sex. This however doesn’t stop us from standing in solidarity and saying no to the rudimentary way the justice system is treating minorities.
If Justice must be, it should be for all men.
I also recently added a new song to my favorites’ playlist. The song, originally done by Nina Simone, was re-done by Emeli Sande. Its message is all in the title accorded to it. ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’.
I disagree with many things about minorities but their right of access to justice, their enjoyment of rights are not part of those. We let the corrupt access justice, the murderers and thieves alike, certainly, we have space to let the minorities too.