KCCA to legitimise law enforcement unit

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is planning to enact the Law Enforcement Ordinance, 2017 seeking to legitimize the Law Enforcement Unit.

The Bill for an Ordinance drafted by KCCA's Directorate of Legal Affairs also seeks to streamline qualifications, training, deployment and establish the law enforcement disciplinary code of conduct.

According to Charles Ouma, KCCA's Director of the Legal Affairs Department, this drafted ordinance was recently tabled before the Authority and is currently being scrutinised by the Legal Affairs Standing Committee.

KCCA's law enforcement officers have come under heavy criticism for their high-handedness and use of force in enforcing city ordinances on members of the public with several deaths registered due to the brutal enforcement.

Early this year, Oliver Basemera, a vendor in Kampala fell in the Namuwongo Channel and died while being chased by KCCA law enforcement officers.

Parliament through its Presidential Affairs Committee has severally tasked KCCA officials on the high-handedness of the enforcement officers raising a number of queries surrounding the recruitment and deployment of the law enforcers.

Ouma said that this drafted ordinance once passed by the council is to among others streamline areas of recruitment, structure, arrests, impounds, discipline among law enforcement officers.

A copy of the drafted bill we saw outlines powers, duties and privileges of a law enforcement officer, seizure and retention of property, disposal of unclaimed property under part three of the draft ordinance.

Seizure and Retention of Property 

Under Seizure and retention of property, the draft ordinance gives powers to a law enforcement officer to seize anything if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that the thing might be used as an exhibit in relation to an offence.

The draft ordinance further requires the law enforcement officer responsible for the seizure to record the fact and description of the property in duplicate and cause the record to be signed by himself or herself and owner.

Disposal of Unclaimed Property 

The draft ordinance provides that any property coming into the possession of a law enforcement officer as a result of a lawful operation is to be dealt with as per Section 41 and 42 of the Police Act, Cap 303.

Every police officer is required under the draft ordinance to take charge of all unclaimed movable property and to furnish an inventory or description of it to a magistrate.

"If the magistrate is of the opinion that the property is subject to speedy or natural decay or that its immediate sale would be for the benefit of the owner, the magistrate shall retain the property and may at any time direct it to be sold." reads part of the draft ordinance.

According to the draft ordinance, the proceeds from these sales remain in such custody as the magistrate directs. Following the sale, the magistrate then can cause a notice of the sale specifying the sold property and call upon any person who may have any claim to the proceeds of the sale to appear and establish his or her claim within six months from the date of the notice.

A heated controversy has in the past surrounded the fate of confiscated perishable property from street vendors in Kampala with KCCA claiming that they are deposited in their stores.

Meanwhile, seized property that is not perishable is to be detained by the magistrate and later cause notice for people to claim the property within six months.

"If any property is neither money nor property subject to speedy and natural decay the immediate sale of which would, in the opinion of the magistrate, be for the benefit of the owner, the magistrate shall detain or give orders for the detention of the property and shall cause a notice to be posted in a conspicuous place at the court or police specifying the property and calling upon any person who may have any claim to the property to appear and establish his or her claim within six months." reads part of the draft ordinance.

If within six months from the date of the notice no person establishes his or her claim to the property, the draft ordinance proposes that the property may be sold or destroyed by order of the magistrate.

Where a property is a firearm or ammunition, a magistrate according to the draft ordinance instead of ordering the sale or destruction may order it to be disposed of in such manner as the Inspector General of Police may direct.

"One-half of the proceeds of the sale of property shall be paid to the credit of the Police Welfare Fund, proportion of the remaining on-half as the magistrate may direct shall be paid to the finder of the property and the balance shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund." further reads the draft ordinance.

Discipline                                                                                                                                            

The draft ordinance establishes a disciplinary code of conduct for the law enforcement officers.

"Officers shall treat violators with respect and courtesy, guard against employing an officious or overbearing attitude or language that may belittle, ridicule, or intimidate the individual, or act in a manner that unnecessarily delays the performance of their duty." reads part of the provision under conduct toward the public.

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