Is this how police is supposed to enforce law?

By Nangayi Guyson

Article 29 clause (2a) of Uganda’s constitution gives me mandate and any other Ugandan Citizen freedom of free movement, residence, and settlement to any part of this country.

Article 24 of the same Constitution also states that no person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Again article 21 clause (1) of our constitution states that all persons in Uganda are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respects and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.

But on Saturday 11/05/2013 at 9:10pm when I was leaving for my place after work, I was attacked by men in police uniform in Nsambya Ave-Maria road, Makindye Division Kampala where I was subjected to beatings and harassments without reason.

Ignorance about the law is what makes police to do this.

How it all started

This is how it all started. I left my place of work 9pm heading home. After moving a very short distance from Ave-Maria stage, I received a call from my people in the village and I kept talking as I continued walking to my place of residence. When I was still on phone and I had just passed the Minister of Agriculture’s residence in Nsambya along Ave-Maria road. Suddenly, a man in plain clothes attacked me. I thought he was a thief trying to grab my phone. I tried to resist to his arrest as he was taking me to a dark place. Within a very short time, i saw more than six men in police uniform plus other men in plain clothes, about 15 people all together.  Two men in police uniform with guns came and started beating, kicking and slapping me asking why I was making noise. I tried to ask them why they were arresting me because I had all my identifications with me but they continued dragging me to a dark place, down to behind Tom Ssebela’s Life Resurrection Church in Nsambya, a Kampala Suburb.

When we reached there, they continued harassing me saying am proving to be wise and knowing law more than them. They said they are enforcing law but I asked them “is this the way howUganda Police enforce law or is just a matter of disrupting public order?” I asked.

Does our constitution give police powers to act like this?

After few minutes, I was asked to present my Identification cards of which I did and I was told to go but they had beaten me for no reason. To my understanding, police is supposed to ask for IDs before anything else, I was not satisfied with the way how I was treated and tried to go on with investigations and this is I what I discover. 

What I discovered

Since this year started, many residents in Nsambya a Kampala suburb have been facing the same treatment like what I faced.

My investigation shows when it clocks 7: 00 pm men in police uniform find their way to these suburb where they arrest everyone they find on the way. They arrest you and take you to the dark place not police station where they ask you to give them money before they can release you.

Many people who testified to me and never wanted to be mentioned because they fear for their lives said they are worried about the situation in this suburb.

When I also visited all the local councils (LCs), the leaders said they have received the same reports from the residents and they are very eager to know and report the matter police headquarters in Kampala.

Why does police exhausting money from people?

In a country like Uganda where police is ranked as the most corrupt institution, the blame should be put on the government. Article 4(a,b) of our Constitution states that the State shall promote public awareness of this Constitution by translating it into Ugandan languages and disseminating it as widely as possible; and providing for the teaching of the Constitution in all educational institutions and armed forces training institutions and regularly transmitting and publishing programmes through the media generally. But the government of Uganda has not done this and many Ugandans don’t know what a constitution is.  Law enforcers like police and the army are also ignorant about the constitution and that is the reason why many Ugandans have been subjected to torture, death and brutal arrests by security operatives.

 Another reason has been that , due to lack of jobs in Uganda , many people join police , army, and other security organizations expecting to get enough money but instead what is paid to them cannot sustain them and their families which forces to start exhausting money from people because they think the law is controlled by them. Following what I went through in the hands of people who called themselves police, many people in this country will continue to face it rough if the government is still silent on teaching people about their rights and the constitution.