Ochola: Use of force is inevitable in policing
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola has justified the use of force by police personnel, which sometimes results in human rights violations.
Ochola said, in spite of interventions to completely eliminate cases of human rights violations, Police continues to operate under chaotic and complex policies especially during political contestation.
Police have over the years faced criticism for infringing on the freedoms of assembly and association by blocking meetings of the opposition political parties around the country. The police force has consistently been ranked the top most perpetrator of Human Rights Violations, according to annual reports by the Uganda Human Rights Commission.
Ochola says often, police officers have been at the receiving end of civil disobedience, taking the blame for all flaws in the justice system. He cited the inadequacy of magistrates and state attorneys in many of the justice circuits around the country for violation of the 48-hour rule for the detention of suspects in Police custody. The rule requires that suspects be arraigned before a court within 48 hours following their arrest.
Ochola was speaking at a two days’ high-level retreat for top directors in Uganda Police and the Uganda Human Rights Commission. The meeting was organized by the Uganda Human Rights Commission to review challenges that could be fueling perpetration of human rights violations in the country. The meeting is held at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
“It is important that we engage the Human Rights Commission to avoid [having] them write distorted facts, things that don’t add up; we have been reading… because there is that lack of engagement, they write things without getting our input,” Ochola said.
He said Police has introduced robust mechanisms to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights in the country including prosecution of errant officers in the Police Unit Disciplinary Courts as well as the Professional Standards Unit.
According to Ochola, the Bucket system has also been eliminated in newly constructed police stations to ensure that suspects in Police custody enjoy good accommodation.
The chairperson of Uganda Human Rights’ Commission Meddie Sozzi Kaggwa said the meeting was convened to bring the Uganda Police Force to a round table and chat issues of significance towards Human Rights observance.
Kaggwa said Human Rights observation is a constitutional mandate which the Police needs to adhere to in the execution of its mandate.
He said the Commission is equally concerned about the violation of the rights of Police personnel in the line of duty.
Kaggwa cautioned the Police directors that Uganda Police Force is operating during a changed time where herding and stampeding people as practised in colonial and dictatorial regimes are no longer admissible. He explained that democratic governance demands that policing, managing government and development must be pro-people and people-centred.