Christopher Mbaziira, a Professor at Makerere University Law School has noted that Uganda Police Force is founded on colonial era paramilitary model of policing whose objective was to subdue.
Clearly, it has failed to break away from the colonial era paramilitary model of policing, Mbaziira argued.
“Police has a choice to raise a force that is either feared or one that is respected. It is arraigning errant officers from last week in a police court is a PR stunt,” he said while appearing on NBS television Tuesday.
He said arraigning the officers in court contradicts the official stand because General Edward Kale Kayihura defended the same officers for beating civilians.
“We need a police ombudsman, independent of the police and capable of investigating when police breaks the law.”
He said when the police is breaking the law, it shouldn’t expect others to follow it.
Not everything that is legal is right, the professor noted, wondering which law says it is illegal for people to stand by the roadside and cheer a political leader.
“Our police often criminalises certain conduct and quickly unleashes punishment. Similar to colonial times. Police is allowed to use reasonable force but did the circumstances of last week call for the force we saw? Police officers can use batons but lately, some officers use wires. Are wires also batons?”
The professor said the public shouldn’t confront the police but its police confronting the public.
“Errant police officers should be arraigned in civilian courts and charged under the Anti-Torture Act.”
Samuel Herbert Nsubuga, the African Centre of Torture Victims, says in the wake of more torture cases, emphasis should be on implementing a four year old anti-torture law.
“Torture is confused with domestic violence. Latter is severe pain [physical/mental] intentionally inflicted by one person on another.”
He says the Uganda’s anti-torture law doesn’t limit torture to public servants saying between 2013 and 2014, detention beyond 24 hours replaced torture as the number one complaint recorded by Uganda Human Rights Commission.
“Unsystematic beating and kicking remain the main manifestation of torture at the hands of security agencies. Often, torture follows frustration as officers attempt to get to the bottom of something.”
He said there is need for training on proper interrogation techniques, noting that implementation of anti-torture law is also key.
“Torture is a crime. In Uganda, tools are rarely used. Often, victims are unsystematically beaten up. People allege that there are designated torture sites in Uganda but we don’t have first hand knowledge or access.”
He said a number of torture cases go unrecorded because some victims choose to stay away out of fear.