14 February 2013

Uganda: Kampala Police Take Human Rights Lessons

On the human rights front, the Uganda Police Force has persistently been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

Several human rights-leaning surveys conducted by, among others, the Uganda Human Rights Commission for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 have singled out the police as leading abusers of human rights. In 2009, a UHRC-prepared report found that 154 out of the 285 cases of human rights violations recorded were reported against police. In 2011, a report by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) found that police attacks on journalists jumped from 38 in 2009, to 58 in 2010 to 107 in 2011.

It's against this background that UHRC launched a training manual for the force in 2011 and started a training programme for the force. Yesterday, the commission launched the training for police officers from Kampala Metropolitan Region - North. It will roll out in the South and East of the region later.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the one-day workshop held at Kampala Kolping House, the acting UHRC chairperson, Dr Katebalirwe Amooti, said such training opportunities enhance the working relationship between the UPF and the commission, which is critical to the fulfilment of their constitutional obligations.

"It will also provide an opportunity for dialogue on the rights of suspects before, during and after arrest," he said.

He also noted that the workshop would also be a platform for dialogue on legal provisions that protect Ugandans from all forms of torture like the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012. Dr Katebalirwe also called upon UPF and other security agencies to desist from harassing journalists. He encouraged the two to work together.

The regional police commander Kampala Metropolitan - North, Stephen Tanui, said the timing of the training was perfect because human rights knowledge bridges the gap between citizens and police.

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