The internal affairs minister said the amendment would allow the force to carry out proper investigations in terrorism and murder cases.
Uganda Police have asked Parliament to amend Article 23 (4) of the 1995 Constitution to allow them to hold suspects beyond the mandatory 48 hours before they are produced in court.
Mario Obiga Kania, the internal affairs minister said the amendment would allow the force to carry out proper investigations in terrorism and murder cases. Kania and the Inspector General of Police ( IGP), Martin Ochola, the deputy IGP, Mzeeyi Sabiiti, Assistant Inspector General of the Police, Asan Kasingye were appearing before Parliament.
Article 23 (4) of the 1995 Constitution states that; "A person arrested or detained for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of an order of a court; or upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his or her arrest."
“Police is requesting for the committees’ support to cause for an amendment in the 48 hour rule of detention to pave way for serious investigations,” Kania said.
According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission 19th annual report, the Police have continued to flout the 48 hour rule.
Obiga said the Police face a number of challenges in enforcing this rule, some of which are not of their own making.
“Some courts have magistrates that work a few days in a week, while some State Attorneys operate over a wide area; besides, the 48 Hour rule is not very realistic in all cases,” a Police written response to the committee read in part.
“It is our intention at an appropriate time to propose a Constitutional amendment where the rule will apply to the majority of cases, but not all,”Obiga explained.
Obiga pointed out that the Police wants exceptions in this rule to include cases committed across borders or within borders, but whose investigations require movements across the country and capital cases that require extensive investigations.
Kasingye told Parliament, “We can’t produce terrorism suspects in two days, because it requires much time to carry out forensic evaluations, In Uganda we don’t have laboratories and equipment to test for bomb exhibits,and we also need enough time to investigate the sponsors of terrorism .”
Kasingye said if a suspect is brought before courts of law and released before investigations are concluded, the Police cannot arrest them because they will have escaped some times.