President Museveni has directed the Attorney General to immediately repeal the idle and disorderly law from the Penal Code.
The Penal Code Act in section 167 criminalises wandering persons, those gambling for cash or prostituting as being idle and disorderly and if convicted in court, they, face a maximum of seven years imprisonment.
Other aspects of the offence attract three months in jail or Shs3,000 fine or both.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Museveni has ordered the Attorney General, who is also the chief government lawyer to revoke the law that he says is archaic.
“It is the colonialists that feared the Africans being around that drafted that law. It should be repealed. I direct the Attorney-General by copy of this letter, to exactly do that,”Museveni said in the letter.
In the letter, Museveni explains that it is wrong to arrest people on account of what he termed as a nonsensical crime from a law brought by colonialists against Africans.
Museveni says that during the former IGP, Gen.Kale Kayihura’s tenure, he asked him to ensure members of the public are not arrested on account of the law but noted the same was not implemented.
“I direct my PPS to check if I did not even put my opposition in writing apart from talking to Kale about this. Why should this be a crime? If I am unemployed and I hang about the park, why should somebody accuse me of the crime of “hanging” around (okwehugizaaho),”Museveni notes in the letter.
He notes that there are more serious crimes like murder, rape, robbery, and embezzlement that police and courts can focus on, other than arresting citizens for being idle and disorderly. Museveni in the letter ordered that all suspects arrested in accordance with the same law should be released immediately.
A number of police cells all over the country are crowded with suspects arrested for being idle and disorderly.