By Anne Mugisa
Services of over 500 policemen are terminated every year because they fail to measure up to the required standards, a just released sector report has said.
And one of the grounds for their termination is torture of suspects, said the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) advisor, Paul Gadenya.
It is for this reason that the JLOs report appealed to President Yoweri Museveni to quickly assent to the law which individualizes liability for those police personnel who torture suspects.
According to Gadenya, officers would be denied chance to hide behind vicarious liability pleading their actions were under direction of a higher authority. He said this then will have the effect of reducing torture cases as officers will think twice before carrying out arbitrary acts.
“In addition to individual criminal liability, the offending officer can also be personally sued by the victim for compensation,” Gadenya said. He explained that this will also not exempt the Government from being sued along for compensation for the actions of its officer while carrying out its work.
According to Gadenya, the Presence of the Police Standards unit (PSU) in most districts has also helped the public to report violations and misconduct by police personnel and the bad ones are prosecuted and interdicted.
The report also pointed out that the total number of annual attrition in the force stood at 1052 or 2.4% of the Force. In addition to the terminated 505, another 295 desert the force while at least 126 die annually. About 1% of the 1052 are discharged, 7% retired, 1% retired and 3% dismissed.
The report, however said that there is a decrease in the Police-population ration which means that there are more personnel to serve the population. Police is one of the Departments that are under JLOS.
The JLOS institutions are trying to improve justice delivery in Uganda and also enhance public access to justice services by sensitising the public to seek the services and ensuring that those mandated to render services do so.
The report pointed out that under JLOS there has been a 144% improvement in disposal of registered cases. Gadenya attributes this to several factors including improved data collection, reduction of case backlog which allows for quicker clearance of case and a strong District Chain Linked Committee (DCC) system. The DCC, he explained facilitates discussion of what is taking place at the district, find reasons for the short comings and make the JLOS institutions accountable.
He also said that there is growth in the results culture where people have began asking how many cases have they completed instead of the time they have spent at work. The other reason, according to Gadenya is the intensified inspection of courts and the creation of the Judicial Integrity Committee (JIC) where dissatisfied people report judicial officers.
“People fear to get bad reports and as a result less judicial officers are doing more work,” he said. He also added that the findings of a 3.75 increase in conviction is a result of improved investigations and the short period on before the trial finally takes off which means that witnesses would still be around and interested.
Previously, suspects stayed on remand for three and more years and by the time they are tried, witnesses are either dead or cannot be traced. He said that another is the pronounced presence of courts which stands at 95% of the districts. It means that people can access the services in a radius of 20km.