We have always thought the changes and transfers would bring about development
SECURITY | POLICE
By Michael Woira
I want to commend you Gen. Kale Kayihura for the adequate preparation of the Uganda Police Force in the past years during your reign as Inspector General of Police. You have indeed made a good contribution towards the security of this country.
I also want to use this opportunity to commend our service men and women for ensuring the protection of lives and properties in Uganda during your term in office. No matter the reservation anyone has for the Uganda Police force, I make bold to say that without you and our officers on ground, lives will be ‘nasty, brutish and short' in the words of "Thomas Hobbes".
To the newly appointed security heads, Gen. Elly Tumwine and IGP Okoth Ochola, for a good number of years, I have observed several transfers of Police officers from one police station to another all in the name of creating security and making sure people are safe in their areas of residence and work. It seems this has not always worked out well in this country because of the conduct of some of our officers in the force.
For the past years, we have always thought the changes and transfers would bring about development and rapid change in the modus operandi of the officers attached to the various police stations and posts. However, we are everyday dazed by the unrepentant corrupt practices, extortion, bribery and questionable character of most officers of the force, with bribery and extortion taking prominence over the ultimate mandate of the body. This has made almost all of us Ugandans corrupt since we have been adhering to the forceful requests by officers because failure to ordain them what they wish has always led to arrests. And, since no one feels comfort in being arrested, many Ugandans have abided with these corrupt security personnel's of ours.
We have also been baffled by the conscientious display of disgraceful act and how shamelessly most men of the organisation have publicly insulted the intelligence of citizens meant to be protected, ridiculing and dragging the integrity of the organisation in the mud.
Also to note, there have been very many issues related to several unofficial arrests. Many people have been arrested by people in civilian dress code and this I has increased crime since we cannot differentiate between a Police officer and a goon or kidnapper.
This is not to say that all law enforcement officers are bad. They are not! Most are good and decent human beings who are trying their best to keep our communities safe under difficult and sometimes deadly circumstances. Nevertheless, in the face of too many occasions when police power has been abused, we are saying that something significantly different needs to be done by you because the president has trusted you with these positions.
We are saying that changes must be made to a law enforcement culture that trains officers to be wary and suspicious of particular groups of people. Racism, classism, sexism and any other form of social prejudice have no place in law enforcement work.
As patriotic Ugandans, we are calling upon you our new security heads to deal with this issue of respect of the laws. Once people are arrested, relatives and those in charge of them should be notified about their places of detention to prevent uncertainties in locating them for justice.
- We are demanding that these arrests made by people in civilian wear should be stopped because kidnappers and other evil people are taking advantage of this to also pursue their missions in the name of being security personnels.
- We are insisting that cases in which law enforcement officers are accused of excessive use of force be handled transparently and objectively by independent review boards that are not answerable to the law enforcement agencies themselves. Those officers who are found to have used excessive force or acted otherwise must be tried in courts of law. Officers who have engaged in an excessive use of force must not be protected by their colleagues and supervisors from having to answer for their deeds.
- We are also calling for the nationwide implementation of effective practices of community policing that are designed to break down the barriers of suspicion, fear, anger, and hatred that set law enforcement agencies at odds with the communities they serve.
- If all these requests of ours are being worked upon then we shall have reason to jubilate and have peace during this reign of Afande Okoth and our senior officer Gen. Elly Tumwine.
The writer is a Pan Africanist