By Mourice Muhoozi
Ugandan political and human rights activists castigated the Uganda Police Force for what they termed “partisanship and unprofessional conduct”, reflected in the human rights abuses by the force.
This was during the National Dialogue on State Policing that was held yesterday at St. Francis students’ centre, Makerere University which was organised by the Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET).
Police were represented by the force’s spokeperson Mr. Emilian Kayima and AIGP Ochom Edward.
These failed to adequately address the masses’ concerns which among others included the police’s use of stick wielding men to beat up the opposition, ruthless suppression of “Togikwatako” demonstrations and being partisan.
Responding to the accusations of being partisan, Mr. Kayima said that they take orders from the commander-in-chief, which are lawful.
He rubbished peoples’ allegations that the police works with “kifeesi”. “We work with community people called crime preventers, not goons” said Kayima, but did not provide a clear answer to the suppression of the “Togikwatako” rallies, which left many people dissatisfied.
Ochom shocked the attendees when he declared that he was not competent enough to answer why some individuals in Uganda enjoy impunity.
This question was posed by the Butambala county MP Muwanga Kivumbi who noted that some individuals in Uganda like Abdul Kitatta, who heads the Boda Boda 2010 enjoy impunity to the extent of ordering the transfer of District Police Commanders. (DPC’S)
According to Ochom, he is less qualified to comment on the charges traded against Kitatta, which angered the crowd. He also failed to explain where kitatta derives powers to give directives to the police, but later on clarified that he is not above the law.
Mr.Kivumbi noted that the murder of AIGP Felix Kaweesi on March 17th 2017 was an insider job, asking why the area DPC deployed most of the police men elsewhere, not in Kulambiro, the day Kaweesi was killed.
Kivumbi warned Kayima and colleagues that if they do not be careful, they will be the next. “We need to use Kitatta’s example to clean the image of the police, if we don’t save you, you will even go,”warned Kivumbi.
Speaking at the same function, the president of the Democratic party Nobert Mao slammed government for using the police as a wielding stick, which he termed “illegitimate police control”.
“The police have done a commendable job, but what do we do to those serving government interests? We thought that we ceded the militia to a national army. We should free our officers so that they do their job independently”.
As a remedy, he urged the police to uphold the 1995 Uganda constitution whose stipulations among others is that the police should be competent, productive, nationalistic and non partisan.
Ms Ruth Ssekindi of the Uganda Human Rights Commission urged the government to professionalize the police force, by doing ground investigation before recruitment.
She voiced that during the recruitment process, some goons are short listed and these commit human rights abuses during police operations.
She urged the government to properly train the police officers, equip them to the teeth “The force is inadequately equipped. Some do not know how to use the tools”, asserted Ms. Ssekindi.
She concluded by saying that if the police is professionalized, brutality and human rights abuses can be checked.
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