Many a-times Ugandans fall in conflict with the law by either their actions or omissions, however many don’t know the legalities surrounding how they should be taken responsible.
In this piece we sit down with police and a legal brain to highlight the various rights and legal provisions in case one should be arrested and how they should
According to the law, one may be arrested when they are suspected to have committed or to be about to commit an offence by a police officer or any citizen. Police can also arrest someone for their own safety in cases such as the mob.
Though arrests should be after investigations, certain circumstances require that suspects are arrested and investigations continue while they are on remand especially in capital offences where suspects are feared to risk with evidence.
‘If we think that so and so got involved in the murder of a particular person and we know that some of the items used in the commission of this crime were hidden, when we interrogate and are not breaking through, the risk of releasing them means they are going to compromise the investigations but it’s no lee way for us to keep them longer,’ Police says.
In case of an arresting citizen, the suspect must be handed to the nearest police officer or station that re-arrests them accordingly while an arresting officer should clearly introduce themselves by name and with a warrant card and inform one of where they are being taken.
However, according to the Uganda Police Spokesperson Emilian Kayima, an officer may not necessarily have to introduce themselves for instance in volatile circumstances.
“Now some situations can be volatile and you may have to use force to arrest people for instance in political contestations, people involved in mob action and they want to beat or kill of burn someone’s house. You may not have the audacity to come and talk to them and show them a warrant card, you may just have you apprehend them using force.”
The police are also allowed by law to use reasonable force if a particular situation is deemed fit. Such force is however bound by particular guidelines including that everything done must be legal, proportional, non-discriminative, necessity and accountability.
“It might be tear gas to subdue you, it might be a baton because this is also our tool of work so we can beat you to subdue you, we can use hand cuffs so you stop fighting and throwing tantrums, we can also use bullets in a way we have to actualise the reason of our arrest,” Kayima says.
Julius Galisonga a city lawyer however says police has much deviated from the grounds for use of any kind of force.
“These days with or without any reasonable grounds officers just start using force pulling a person even when the person has complied with the order to render himself to police they hand cuff him now that is a very big problem.”
Galisonga also says use of force by arresting officers is being worsened by courts of law that take no action in cases where allegations of brutal arrests and torture are reported.
“To teach or to guide investigations courts and on how police handles investigations I think courts should take very seriously allegations that come before it tending towards that the people who are in court were mistreated, the evidence was gathered under duress and undue influence and through forceful means,” Galisonga says.
On arrest, the suspect has a right to stay silent even when police wants a statement recorded.
“The duty to investigate rests with police, now if you are accused of a crime one of your rights is to keep quiet because what you will say might be used to convict you,” Galisonga adds.
So many questions arose in the aftermath of the arrest of former Buyende DPC Muhammad Kirumira when police cut out his house door, questions rose over the legality of the action. Police notes that as an officer, Kirumira was supposed to be compliant or attract force as he did because more shall be demanded of those that know more.
“We’ll go to arrest community members and they will abuse us and throw stones at us but when an officer does the same then we have to use force,” Kayima says.
Kayima says that all circumstances that led officer at Kirumira’s home to do what they did were acceptable by law; he adds that the only challenge was with people’s sentiments about the same.
“When you go into the sentiments, it’s a different story. They think its high handed, they think we are trying to show emotions and power yet as an officer the best thing he had to do was comply, to submit in order to avoid the fracas unless his intension was to raise emotions which political antics we’ve seen many people play,” Kayima says.
Police also clarifies that an officer without uniform can arrest a suspected offender for as long as he can introduce himself by way of the warrant card.
According to the law, arresting officers are even allowed to break into one’s premise in case they want to take him and the person is not corporative or is hiding in the house.
It is imperative to note that while an officer can be investigated and charged if they come face to face with suspected crime and arrest the people, they can be charged. This applies to citizens too who fail to use their arresting powers or report crime.