9 November 2017

Uganda: Arrests Raise Questions About Rising Lawlessness

Photo: The Observer
Ahmed Ssenfuuka being rearrested shortly after being released on bail.
editorial

Ugly scenes were for the umpteenth time in our history seen on the streets of Kampala on Tuesday as security operatives rearrested four out of the eight suspects in the murder of former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

Umar Magada, Ahmad Senfuka, Ibrahim Kisa and Majid Ojegere were rearrested shortly after Nakawa Grade I Magistrate, Mr Noah Sajjabi, had granted them bail. The group had been in jail for more than six months without trial.

There should be no problem with the police moving to arrest suspected criminals. After all, we all would want to live in a secure environment. But rearresting people who have been held for long periods before trial raises serious questions.

In August last year, while speaking in Kibuku District during the commissioning of Kiriki Police Station, the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, directed the Force commanders to stop arresting suspects before investigations are complete. It would now appear that Gen Kayihura's directive has since been ignored.

Tuesday's events suggest that the initial arrest and arraignment in court on April 21 were carried out prior to the conclusion of investigations. Had the investigations been concluded, the suspects would have probably been committed to the High Court for trial. There would, therefore, not have been any need to rearrest them.

While that is a problem, the much bigger problem lies in the manner in which arrests, especially that of Mr Ahmad Senfuka, was effected. It once again raises serious questions about the conduct of the men in charge of our security.

Mr Senfuka was arrested as a shabbily dressed operative brandished a pistol at members of the public, who concerned by the obviously irregular manner of arrest, tried to intervene.

He was brutalised and stripped. The images of his bare behind bared for all to see! This was a wanton affront on his dignity as a human being. This was a violation of his rights and must be condemned.

Besides stripping the suspect, they subjected him to beatings in order to force him into their car. That was another violation of his rights.

Such images are reminiscent of what members of the State Research Bureau subjected Ugandans to during the regime of dictator Idi Amin Dada. Back then, pistol-wielding operatives would brutalise and bundle their victims into boots of waiting cars.

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