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MPs, UHRC disagree over Police's human rights record

By Moses Walubiri

Added 7th April 2019 10:39 AM

Annual reports by UHRC indicate that Police is one of the government institutions that violate the rights of citizens most

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UHRC chairman Med Kaggwa appearing before the legal committee of Parliament. Photo by Maria Wamala

Annual reports by UHRC indicate that Police is one of the government institutions that violate the rights of citizens most

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and a section of lawmakers sitting on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee are singing from different hymn books pertaining to what the former claims is a recent improvement in the manner Uganda Police Force is carrying out its arrests.

MPs Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) and Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) told UHRC chairperson, Med Kaggwa on Friday that his optimism about the nature in which Police is conducting arrests is misconceived.

While meeting lawmakers on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee on Friday, Kaggwa said that since Walter Ochola replaced Gen. Kale Kayihura as Inspector General of Police two years ago, Police has improved the manner in which it carries out its arrests.

“We are not saying that do not arrest suspects, but do it humanely. And in this regard, there has been an improvement since the change in Police leadership,” Kaggwa said.

But citing the recent incident where Police shot a handcuffed man suspected of having trailed Minister Idah Nantaba’s car, Basalirwa labelled Kaggwa’s optimism as misconceived.

“I think you are becoming too optimistic too early. There is actually no change,” Basalirwa said.

For close to two decades, annual reports by UHRC about the observance of rights in Uganda indicate that Uganda Police is one of the government institutions that violate the rights of citizens most.

And given the mandate of Uganda Police – keeping one step ahead of the bad guys which entails investigations and arrests,  it is no surprise that allegations of some elements in the Uganda Police flouting rights of citizens has over the years has become a staple of UHRC annual reports.

And Police’s case has not been helped by incidents, mostly captured on social and mainstream media of its officers clobbering citizens or kicking handcuffed subdued suspects on its pickups.

UHRC was established under the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda to promote and protect human rights and freedoms in the country in recognition of Uganda’s violent and turbulent history that had been characterised by arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, torture and brutal repression with impunity on the part of security organs during the pre and post-independence era.

UHRC was established under the provisions of Article 51(1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and its functions and powers were operationalised under the Uganda Human Rights Act of 1997.

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