Uganda's state minister for internal affairs, Kania Obiga, has issued an apology in parliament for the use of torture, according to reports.

Opposition activists and human rights organisations have long accused police leadership of torture.

In his address to Parliament, Obiga referred to recent media reports in Uganda's police was accused of torturing people suspected to be connected to the murder of a senior police officer, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi, to illicit confessions.

The apology came soon after President Yoweri Museveni on 16 May wrote a letter to top security officials warning against the use of torture.

In his letter addressed to the Chief of Defence Forces, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Intelligence Services, Museveni described the practice as "unnecessary and wrong and must not be used again".

Following the reports, photos of the hospitalized mayor of Kamwenge, Geoffrey Byamukama, were leaked earlier this month. Byamukama had "horrific injuries including gaping wounds on his knees and ankles, which he said resulted from beatings by police who were investigating the same murder", according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Police initially denied the claims.

Quoted by New Vision newspaper, Obiga confirmed police had arrested four officers allegedly linked to the torture accusations. Official investigations are still going on.

"We apologise to the country because essentially what we do as police should not be what you are seeing in the media," Obiga told lawmakers in his remark. "Laws have been broken but it's not correct to say that we have been doing nothing."

In his letter, Museveni highlighted how "In our traditional societies, torture was commonly used and it was not only accepted but, actually, encouraged (...) Traditional ideas, however, had their own mistakes in many instances. That is why, those ideas that are not consonant with logic should be abandoned."

In September 2016, HRW highlighted Ugandan security forces' "brutal and brazen conduct" during elections in February, referring to journalist beatings by police – also accused of using live ammunition to scatter those awaiting results in some areas.