By Faridah Lule.
Chapter 12 of the Constitution specifically talks about the National Security of Uganda. Article 221 specifically notes that security organizations should observe human rights. In detail (to the benefit of our dear security personnel) it explains, “it shall be the duty of the Uganda People’s Defence forces and any other armed force established in Uganda, the Uganda Prisons Service, all intelligence services and the national Security Council to observe and respect human rights and freedoms in their performance of their functions.”
A Ugandan Police officer on duty. (Yahoo photo)
It’s on record however, both in print and video, that security personnel manhandling unarmed citizens not only contravenes the above but also is no longer news, in Uganda. The law is clear that a person is innocent until proved guilty, yet in Uganda, a suspect is proved guilty upon arrest.
There and then, security operatives take the law by manhandling often-civilian suspects. Mob justice incidents usually get security agencies speaking up, urging Ugandans not to take “the law in their own hands”, yet we witness the opposite when Police apprehends civilians. Why for example is nobody, especially in our Investigation-obsessed Police, attempting to investigate Kiiza Besigye’s recent prison concerns?
NBS’s Remmy Bahati, Ingrid Turinawe are among the flood of Security harassment examples, to mention but a few. One particular attempt to engage the inspector general through Uganda Human Rights Commission has also met a dead end. Unprecedented impunity by security agencies is a concern Ugandans should not get reluctant asking about. Police should redesign its curriculum for the training of officers.
All said, the Constitution should not be implemented in as and when it pleases some individual. Our colleagues in security should uphold their public service mandate above emotions and reactionism; otherwise we won’t hesitate to ask. Have Security agencies taken up the Judiciary’s role?
The writer is the regional coordinator for Citizens Election Observer Network, Buganda Region.