Dear Ugandans at heart,
We are taking disciplinary action against the officer who ‘squeezed’ FDC’s Ngrid Turinawe’s breasts, who by the way is a female officer not a male officer. But that should not be misunderstood to be exoneration of the unlawful activities of Ms Ingrid Turinawe who provokes incidents in which sometimes some police officers make mistakes. It is amazing that not even an iota of outrage is expressed when police officers suffer excesses of rioters and their organizers and sponsors, the last one being the stoning to death of Ariong by rioters when he was carrying out his duty. I have not seen any expression of sympathy to the widow and his children the way you sympathize with Ingrid and her family for a lesser outrage. Remember the other was murder! Police also deserves balanced criticism which we rarely get.
Am glad to connect to the UAH forum. Am ready for discourse on the work we do and the challenges we face. While am eager to apologize to Ingrid (in spite of the fact that she has never expressed any apology to the Police for her unlawful and incessant provocations), I don’t want to pre empty the on-going investigation by our Professional Standards Unit.
As for the allegations that we provoke the incidents, it is really an insult to the memory of Ariong to suggest that the riotous incident that led to the death of Ariong was provoked by the Police!! I want to invite you to joint research with us on the riotous situations, especially the Mabira forest racist riot in 2007, the Kayunga riots in 2009, (that were orchestrated by genocidal broadcasts by some fm radios based on lies), as well as riotous incidents in the so called Walk to Work protests, in 2011 to date. I should also tell you that there are sections of the Opposition who have made demonization of the Uganda Police a political platform. But slowly they are being exposed, the mistakes that we sometimes make notwithstanding. There is a lot of hypocrisy, and I hope you who are outside the country will not be duped.
The Uganda Police is not the only security organization where unprofessional misconduct takes place. Indeed, there is no security organization the world over constituted by angels only. You only have to watch CNN or other major news network to appreciate this. My appeal is that you judge on the basis of what action we take when professional/criminal misconduct occurs rather than using mistakes of individuals to demonize the Police as an institution. I want to assure you that we don’t tolerate impunity.
However, the officers, like other citizens, are entitled to the due process of law. We have disciplinary organs in the Police, and courts of law. Indeed, there is abundant evidence of disciplinary/criminal action taken against police officers. But I also wish to reiterate that, while not apologizing for wrongdoing on the part of some police officers, Police action is usually consequential. The cause of all this, is persons, particularly political leaders, who refuse to recognize the mandate and authority of the Police under the Constitution, and create confrontational situations that result in incidents such as the current one. Ingrid is notorious for this, and it is deliberate. It is a political platform intended to demonize the Police and by extension the government. We handle many public events and in the majority of cases, including those of the Opposition, there are peaceful.
Dr Besigye can go on as he always does to call us all sorts of names. As I informed the UAH moderator, Abbey Semuwemba, am prepared for an objective, comprehensive joint research in all the incidents, especially since 2005, when the multiparty dispensation became operational after the removal of Article 269 of the Constitution. Am sure thereafter you will appreciate my point.
Judith Nababokoba is out on a course. I will tell her to begin getting active on UAH. I think this is a very important forum. I did not know about it.
Accountable to Ugandans or the regime in power?
The mandate of the Police is clearly spelled out in the Constitution, and that is what we strive to carry out on a daily, hourly basis. We face challenges which are obviously an occupational hazard.
Police carrying arms
Incidentally, the British police carry arms. Have you been to Heathrow lately? I want to assure you that our principal policing method is community policing as practiced in Britain, and I personally move on the streets and mingle with the people freely. We have very active police community liaison officers. But of course that is not sensational and does not make news.
However, having said that, we have new realities on our streets, namely terrorism that requires some level of armament for the police. Because of the high tech level of Britain with Millions of cameras all over the place, all that the police does is to place concealed armed teams which you will not see on a routine basis except when there is a problem. You remember the incident when terrorism was a big threat to Britain, and there was that incident in which the undercover police of the London Metropolitan police shot a Brazilian In full view of the public mistaking him to be a terrorist.
As I told you, I have seen heavily armed police at airports in London. In our case, we are still low tech. Our main weapon against terrorism is popular vigilance and deterrence through visibility, and so far it has worked. Anyway, go to other cities such as Rome. Haven’t you heard of the carabineiri? Even in countries such as Netherlands where the level of violent threats is low, whenever there are violent demos, riots, or other similar threats, it is the military police that responds. I saw this one time in 2006, in Amsterdam, when someone fired some object at a Press building.
What about the US, the home of democracy and human rights, where even traffic police is armed! Here in Uganda, traffic police is not armed. In fact, we have had to give them armed protection because of increasing threats on them, and as you know, they work deep into the night. So, anywhere, in any part of the world, whether Police is armed or not, depends on the level of threat. Surely, our situation is obvious.
General Kale Kayihura
Inspector General of Police