MPs on the Defense and Internal Affairs committee of parliament have voiced their disquiet about the manner in which 140 Ugandan police officers were deployed to Somalia in August last year without Parliament's approval.
The legislators, although accede that the constitution and the Police Act are 'silent' about deployment of police personnel outside Ugandan borders, contend that parliament should have given its seal of approval to the deployment given its oversight role over the police force.
"Parliament is the one that regulates the police force, but we are not officially aware of your deployment to Somalia," committee chairperson, Milton Muwuma said during an interface with the top brass of Uganda police, including Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura on Tuesday.
MPs contend that information about the mission became public knowledge when deployed officers started complaining about deductions and late payment of their allowances.
MPs Hussein Kyanjo, Fungaroo Kaps and committee vice chairperson, Simon Mulongo called for the summoning of the sector Minister, James Baba, to parliament to seek mandate for the Somalia mission.
However, Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura told MPs that the Attorney General had given a legal opinion okaying the deployment without parliamentary assent, thus paving way for Uganda to join Nigeria in sending police personnel to the war-torn country.
"We sought the opinion of the Attorney General and he endorsed the deployment without parliamentary approval. The constitution is not explicit in this circumstance, unlike in instances where the army is deployed outside the country," Kayihura said.
Uganda accepted to send police personnel initially meant for Darfur on the request of African Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) after Sudan declined to grant them visas.
This followed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ugandan government and the African Union on a host of issues pertaining to the welfare of the personnel to be deployed, funding of the mission and compensation in cases of death and grave injury.
Kayihura justified the USD$200 monthly deductions from their USD$1028 monthly allowances saying, it goes into meeting administrative costs like training.
The Commandant of the police force in Somalia, John Nuwagira said the mission covers only those aspects pertaining to keeping law and order, although in instances where they come under insurgent fire, they are mandated to defend themselves.
Uganda has played an integral role in pacifying Somalia, contributing the first batch of soldiers under AMISOM in 2007.
Uganda has previously deployed its police forces under the auspices of the UN in Liberia, Kosovo, East Timor and Darfur.