Security: Uganda restricts use of drone cameras

Are you into photography or film making? Using your drone camera may no longer be as easy as it has been in the past.

Due to the worsening deteriorating security situation in the country, security agencies have come up with tough guidelines that must be adhered to by anyone intending to use a drone.

This is in response to discovery that drones posed a security threat to Uganda, UPDF commanders told Parliament’s committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.

“The drones were causing a lot of security threats because security had raised concerns of drones as they can be used as collection  of intelligence. They can be weaponised by the enemy.  They can interfere with normal traffic flow within Uganda’s airspace yet they are operated by people who aren’t trained and don’t understand air navigation,” said Maj Gen Charles Lwanga Lutaaya, the commander of the UPDF airforce.

For anyone to use drones in Uganda, they will have to be cleared by the line Ministry under which planned activities fall as well as apply for letter of no-objection to use Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) technology.

Next step will be submitting an application to the interim Tripartite Committee set up by the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) composed of Air Force, Commander of the Special Forces Command (CSFC) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The Committee will carry out a security vetting of the applicant and make recommendations to the CDF for issuance of a letter of acceptance or rejection.

Importation of drones will go through a clearance procedure with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

After being granted security and importation clearance, the intending drone operator shall apply to CAA for an operation permit.

Drone operators will also have to undergo a Pilot’s RPA training, must possess a license and at least class III medical certificate issued by a recognized aviation designated medical examiner.

In the new guidelines, the Army warned that the undeclared RPA shall be confiscate destroyed and culprit will be held by laws of Uganda.

UNLICENSED GUNS

The CDF Gen David Muhoozi told MPs that the army embarked on a process of fingerprinting all guns as directed by President Yoweri Museveni following the murder of former Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga.

The fingerprinting, Muhoozi said, will also extend to guns that enter the country illegally through Uganda’s porous borders.

“They are already underway fingerprinting and once we do those in the hands of security, then at least because sometimes we have wrong elements within us who commit crime you can easily trace it and later we can find a solution to guns that come from outside the country,” Muhoozi said.

Asked about the recruitment exercise of Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel, Muhoozi said that the village guards will be managed under the structure of the UPDF much as they will work with the police.

They will earn a monthly of Shs 200,000, a figure that shocked MPs but Muhoozi said that since they are part of the auxiliary forces of the UPDF, they can’t be treated differently.

“These people (LDUs) are basically local residents being given a task voluntarily that in addition to being resident, you can help in security and for that, you can be paid Shs 200,000 and they work under supervision,” Gen Muhoozi said.

His explanation was not convincing to the MPs that more notably, Sarah Najjuma (Nakaseke Woman) and Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) wondered how someone can be armed and paid Shs200,000 and not expected to turn into a criminal like was the case with some crime preventers.

“What you are putting in place, does it ensure security over a long time or just for a short period of time? Otherwise you are going to create 24,000 more criminals that are idle,” Kivumbi said.

Muhoozi protested the comparison of LDUs to crime preventers.

“This isn’t the first time we are training LDUs and I want to make a distinction of crime preventers; they weren’t paid, they weren’t armed and the basis of their enlistment was totally different from LDUs. I want to assure the MP that they can’t degenerate into insecurity,” Muhoozi said.

The recruitment of 24,000 LDUs by UPDF kicked off last week on the directive of President Museveni following last month’s assassination of former Buyende DPC ASP Muhammad Kirumira.