The management of Uganda Police Force is set to unveil a human rights policy to support the streamlining of human rights issues in Police operations.
This was announced on Friday as the Police again came under fire from human rights defenders over human rights violations. During a dialogue that was part of activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations declaration on human rights defenders, at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala, the human rights defenders slammed Police and other security agencies for acting with impunity, intolerance and brutality in the course of their duty.
Every December 10, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate human rights day. This year’s celebrations are running under the theme: Uganda: Reinforcing HRD protection, advancing rights.
Other activities lined up for the commemoration include a debate on the right to freedom of expression and association and a human rights gala that will crown the celebrations for this year that will be held at the Railway Grounds in Kampala today.
Human rights defenders cited the violence and torture that were meted on Opposition politicians, activists and journalists during the Arua municipality by-elections in August this year. James Kusemererwa, the head of Police human rights desk, said the policy was in its final stages and would among others underline punitive measures to all Police officers who violate human rights and freedoms.
The policy will also address capacity building of Police officers in human rights issues.
“I want to assure you that a lot is changing in the Police.We have reduced the use of teargas and a Police human rights policy will soon be launched to equip the officers,” he said.
Prosy Babirye, the acting executive director of National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, expressed concern over incomplete investigations into the number of break-ins in the offices of civil society organisations. Offices of 32 NGOs have over time been broken into, 25 in Kampala and seven upcountry.
Babirye said vital information discs and documents were the target. An attack at the offices of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum in 2016 left one security guard, Emmanuel Alituha, killed and a number of others injured.
The human rights activists also used the occasion to launch a private report into the break-ins accusing the Police of failing to release the report into the incidences. The report faulted some NGOs, which were attacked for failing to undertake security precautions at their offices, making them prone to such criminal invasions.
Kusemererwa said the Police report on break-ins was complete and simply awaiting management perusal before it could be released.
“It is not true that we have not done anything. Some cases were investigated and concluded. Suspects who were behind the crime convicted,”Kusemererwa said.
Meddie Mulumba, a member of Uganda Human RightsCommission said despite significant gains in defence of human rights
“we need to also note that there are still challenges that human rights defenders face. These include: shrinking space, attacks on journalists, office break-ins, enforcement of the new legal regime among other”
Jova Kamateeka, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on human rights,said Police personnel need more funding to ensure further training’s and effectively investigate cases.