Police poorly trained, says former police chief

Former Deputy Inspector General of Police Julius Odwee has blamed the rampant human rights violations by police officers on poor training.

Speaking at the Human Rights Convention 2018 organised by Chapter Four Uganda at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel on May 3, Odwee said that a poorly trained police cannot be mindful about the rule of law.

“I believe that the police is not well trained; so they cannot under take the responsibility to acquaint themselves on the rule of law; they do not have enough knowledge, they do not have the exposure, they lack experience…anything can happen [because] a mindset that has not been transformed can be used to do anything,” Odwee said.

Former DIGP Julius Odwee giving his submissions during the convention. Photo: Chapter Four

Odwee retired from the police in July 2011 after three decades of service as a policeman.
He subsequently turned into a critic of some actions of the police and the government.

At the Human Rights convention, he was on the panel with the police’s Director of Legal and Human Rights affairs Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Erasmus Twarukuhwa and the Executive Director Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET) Sylvia Namubiru to discuss the Police and its role in promoting and protecting human rights.

AIGP Erasmus Twarukuhwa responding to questions during plenary.

The discussion followed the screening of a video by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP) Winfred Kiiza who is also Kasese Woman MP, showing how the police brutally broke peaceful demonstrations and meetings of opposition politicians.

The police last year used teargas and bullets to block opposition MPs from holding public consultations on government’s move to repeal Article 102(b) that provided for presidential age limits.

Twarukuhwa was put on the spot over the partisan way in which the police acted during the age limit consultations, breaking up opposition meetings while at the same time guard similar meetings by NRM MPs.

Odwee said that he had a feel of dishonesty where some officers seek to cover up for police misdeeds, adding that some officers occupy office on the basis of technical know who and not necessarily to serve Ugandans.

This he said after Twarukuhwa spoke in defence of the police actions arguing that an officer should know the Police hierarchy and be able to explain the order and situation warranting a particular call of action.

“The Inspector General of Police has clearly stated the right chain of command; from the IGP to the AIGP, to Directors to regional Police Commanders to District Police Commanders; defining a chain of command is a big step towards erasing amorphous statements of order from above as commonly used while making arrests of especially politicians critical of government,” Twarukuhwa said.

On her part, Namubiru took on the Police for their violation of the people’s right to liberty when they keep suspects in custody for more than 48hrs and 24hrs for child offenders respectively which is a breach of the constitutional provision.

LASPNET executive director Sylivia Namubiru

She further demanded that police provide accountability of its misconduct.
“There is need to take concrete steps and to be accountable; and being answerable to the public; say these are the people who did it, and explain the circumstances under which they did it. But you realise that there is some kind of protection,” Namubiru said.

The AIGP made a commitment to share with police management the concerns raised if availed with a proper documentation of the grievances and recommendations.