Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) whose mandate is to protect and promote human rights and freedoms in the country is deeply concerned by the recent incidents of police brutality against un-armed civilians. On Tuesday 12th July 2016, people who lined up along Gayaza road as Col Kizza Besigye was on the way to his home after his release from prison were beaten with sticks and cable-like instruments by policemen riding on police patrol vehicles. Again on the following day on Wednesday 13th July 2016 at the Busabala Road junction, crowds especially boda boda riders following Col Kizza Besigye on his way to the FDC party headquarters were beaten by stick wielding civilians and policemen. The sight of civilians scampering for safety from the police which is not only mandated but obliged to protect them was a sad and regrettable moment for the country, which we do not wish to see repeated.
Uganda Human Rights Commission strongly condemns these actions of errant police officers which are a blatant violation of the rights and freedoms of the victims of both incidents and calls for the urgent prosecution of the errant police officers and civilians involved in these incidents under The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Law of 2012 which provides for individual liability. Uganda Human Rights Commission is on record for condemning such acts involving the use of excessive force by the police over the years. The Commission has also variously raised concern over the presence of civilians working along the police to disperse crowds and the need for the police to explain their presence.
Uganda Human Rights Commission is concerned with the use of brutal force by the Police and notes that such acts violate Article 24 of the Constitution which guarantees the respect of human dignity and protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as Article 44 of the Constitution which totally prohibits the violation of the right to freedom from torture and ill treatment, which is a non-derogable right. Other Constitutional provisions violated by such violent acts include Article 20 and Article 221, which require that all organs and agencies of Government including security organisations and all persons must observe, uphold and respect human rights and freedoms in the performance of their functions. The Commission therefore reiterates its earlier calls to the Uganda Police Force to always exercise restraint and apply only reasonable and necessary force, in the course of carrying out its work.
However, the Uganda Human Rights Commission as a national human rights institution is carrying out consultations with the Uganda Police Force at a strategic level, to discuss this and other human rights concerns aimed at improving the observance and respect of human rights and freedoms of Ugandans by the police. The Commission is also gratified to learn that the Police Professional Standards Unit (PSFU) has commenced investigations into the cases and urges them to expedite the process, make public the findings and punish the culprits.
Med S.K Kaggwa