A new report released by the Human Rights Watch has castigated police over continued brutality meted out to Ugandans.
The 2017 report by the US based human rights body has put the police on the spot for unjustifiably blocking restricting and dispersing peaceful assemblies and demonstrations by opposition groups, relying on the 2013 Public Order Management Act (POMA) which the body describes as being vague.
“In July, police arrested and detained 56 members of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) for three days on charges of holding an “unlawful assembly” at a private home on the outskirts of Kampala,” the report says.
“Police also arrested and detained members of the opposition Democratic Party in July and August as they prepared to address the public to oppose the draft constitutional amendment lifting the age limit of presidential candidates.”
The report however says that in contrast, police in Arua, West Nile and Kabale escorted demonstrators advocating in favour of the constitutional amendment.
The report by the US based body has also accused police of killing people while trying to disperse opposition politicians from holding rallies against the age limit in various parts of the country.
One person was killed after police fired live bullets and teargas to disperse crowds who had gathered around FDC strongman Dr.Kizza Besigye in Rukungiri town in October.
Police would later claim that the deceased had been killed by a stone but a postmortem report would later clarify that he had been killed by a bullet that ripped through his head.
According to Human Rights Watch, perpetuators of such crimes have not been brought to book by police.
“And yet, in October, police charged opposition leader Kizza Besigye and two colleagues with murder, assault, inciting violence, and unlawful assembly for the deaths of protestors in Rukungiri,”the body says.
The 2017 report also accuses police and other security of arresting before torturing suspects whom they detain at what Nalufenya detention centre in Jinja district.
The report says police and prosecutors have consistently failed to investigate cases of illegal detention and torture of suspects.
“Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented numerous instances of mistreatment and torture, particularly in Nalufenya police post in Jinja, eastern Uganda over several years,” reads the report.
“Suspects are often held at the post for periods well beyond the 48 hours, permitted by law. Defendants arrested after the Kasese violence and detained in Nalufenya showed clear signs of mistreatment and torture during court hearings.”
Last year, gruesome photos of Kamwenge town council mayor emerged showing him with septic wounds on the knees and feet following torture by police after being arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
He was released on police bond, five months later.
Police and other security organs were again in the spotlight for torturing the 22 people suspected of having masterminded the murder of AIGP Kaweesi in March.
High Court would late order government to compensate each of the suspects to a tune of 80 million shillings for being tortured.
The Human Rights Watch report says these orchestrators of these gruesome acts have never been brought to book.
When contacted, the police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said he didn’t have much to comment about the report but said brutality is the usual song that the body sings.
“If they are interested in sharing their findings with us, they are welcome so that we can agree on the gray areas and address them,”Kayima told the Nile Post.
“Otherwise, much of their reports will remain suspect in many respects.”