Police commanders and detectives who keep suspects in cells for more than 48 hours will face tough action from the force, according to the new directives issued by police director for operations Assistant Inspector General of Police- AIGP Edward Osiru Ochom.
In his latest list of guidelines already shared and pinned at various police divisions and units, AIGP Ochom cautions police personnel against detaining suspects for over 48 hours which contravenes Article 23 of the Ugandan constitution.
Police officers have also been warned against mistreating civilians for instance beating them during operations or barking at them whether in office or field.
“Ensure that suspects are not kept in police custody for long without subjecting them to courts of law, even criminals apprehended should not be tortured,” AIGP Ochom’s directive reads in part.
Article 23 (2) states that a person arrested, restricted or detained shall not be kept in an unauthorised place, while (3) states that a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be informed immediately, in a language that the person understands, of the reasons for the arrest, restriction or detention and of his or her right to lawyer of his or her choice.
Section 4 (b) states that “A person arrested or detained for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of an order of a court; or upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his or her arrest.”
President Yoweri Museveni last month addressed the country and condemned security agencies for brutalizing Ugandans by beating them, detaining them for long periods without trial and subjecting suspects to torture.
Museveni showed videos of a policewoman clobbering a helpless lady in the guise of enforcing directives intended to control the spread of Covid19. In addition, Museveni also showed pictures of naked suspects of the attempted assassination of Gen Edward Katumba Wamala.
Gen Katumba was shot on June 1st at Kisota road in an incident that left his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Sgt Haruna Kayondo killed on the spot. In response, security agencies arrested 12 suspects but of these, four were shot dead, something lawyers termed as extrajudicial execution.
AIGP Ochom has also reminded investigators that use of torture to extract information from suspects is archaic and outdated.
“Avoid all forms of torture during investigations or interrogation to obtain confession and admissions from suspects,” he wrote. “Do professional investigations, interviews and interrogations that are devoid of torture to ensure convictions in courts of law and defeat lawlessness.”
But human rights lawyers Najib Kasule is skeptical on whether police and sister security agencies will ever respect such guidelines.
Kasule believes there is lack of enforcement of such guidelines for security personnel to know that their commanders were not doing public relations.
Expeditious deportation of foreigners has also been prohibited in Ochom’s directives. He argues that any deportation done wrongly could be injurious or disadvantage the country. Police officers have been reminded to be pro-people in all their operations.