President Yoweri Museveni has asked Police to investigate the issue of stray bullets that allegedly killed people during the two-day protests earlier this month after the arrest of National Unity Platform presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi.
Addressing the country about the current security situation, the President said whereas a total of 54 people had been killed during the protests that swept Kampala and several other town centres across the country, over 20 of them were hit by stray bullets.
“Police should audit the issue of killing people by stray bullets. What was the original purpose of the bullets that strayed,” Museveni wondered.
The President explained that as cleared indicated in the Police manual on the use of guns, in such incidents, security is supposed to fire in the air to scare aware the attackers and not directly at them, unless the worse turns to the worst.
He noted that the investigations should clearly explain if the standard operating procedures were followed by security while quelling the protests.
“The phenomenon should be audited. Even if you don’t have anti-riot equipment you can ably control a riotous situation while firing in the air. With firing in the air there can’t be stray bullet because by the time the bullet falls on ground is has lost strength,” he said.
“Stray bullet can only come when you fire directly at attackers and bullet misses target to hit the bystanders or people in their homes.”
Manual on guns
The Inspector-General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola last month, on the directive of the President who is also the commander in chief, has issued a manual on gun use to all police officers around the country.
According to the manual, firearms must only be used in situations of self-defence or any other circumstances where order cannot be restored or a specific duty performed unless firearms are used.
‘The situation must be hostile as to justify the use of firearms and fire must only be aimed shots, officers must be conscious of innocent bystanders,” the manual said.
“In case of shooting, it must be done by selected marksmen and aimed at specific targets and the officer discharging fire must avoid collateral damage.”
According to the manual, in case of an incident of shooting, the wounded should be cared for by police officers until medical evacuation arrives.
The manual indicated that lethal force is only authorized for use when one reasonably believes a lesser degree force would be insufficient to perform the duty or in case of self-defence or defence of other persons if there is reasonable cause to believe there is imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.
The Police chief, however, warned that a moving vehicle shall not be fired upon except when its occupants pose an imminent danger of causing death or injury to the police officer or any other person and the use of the firearm will not create danger to the public.