When I was young, I feared anyone in police/military uniform. They all looked scary and the fact that they carried guns well scared the hell out of me. I didn’t see them as controllers of trouble but as trouble itself. I would take off at the sight of a police officer. Most of them were so dark skinned and always had serious faces. (I actually thought dark skin and an angry face were requirements for joining the army or working for the police.)

As I approached my teenage years, my attitude towards those guys that carried guns and arrested people changed. That was because I had been taught that their work and duty was ‘’to keep law and order.” I wasn’t afraid of them and every time I saw them greeting them would be a pleasure. I mean greeting someone who is literally protecting the whole country. I felt like they controlled the whole country and that they carried it on their shoulders. They were good people. They ran around and arrested anyone who broke the law. By then they arrested mostly people who were evading tax.

During my teenage years, I totally admired police and the army at large. I wished I could join them and take part of the good cause. Keeping law and order. Seeing how they controlled riots and how I felt secure whenever they were around brought dreams of joining the army one day. The way they protected the president was astonishing. It made me feel like that’s how they protected the country and the people. I said to myself, these guys would give their lives for the people of Uganda at whichever cost.

I left behind teenage for those who were born after me and my vision changed. Not just towards police but to the whole world at large. Having joined law school, I wasn’t basing my knowledge on just what I saw with my human eye, what I read in the papers, what I saw in the movies or on just gossip and rumors. I have enough knowledge on the police as a body and an institution and I can tell the wrong they are doing from the right they should do.

I still respect the duty of police but I have lost my admiration and respect for them. These days they don’t scare me simply because they carry guns and wear serious dark skinned faces but because all I see is the opposite of what is expected of them. Instead of protecting people, they are practically mistreating them. They resolve trouble with more trouble. It’s as if we are back to the old testament of an eye for an eye. They are meant to keep order but I don’t see order in resolving riots by chasing around civilians and brutally flogging them. It just seems like they don’t care about the people anymore. Instead of keeping law and order, they seem to be doing just the opposite. Well, not all the time but most of the times.

I am basing this on the recent acts that were witnessed as police officers flogged citizens on the streets using ‘enkoni’ naturally used for grazing cattle. I believe that there are way better methods police can use to suppress this political dissent and defiant attitude than flogging citizens as if they were cattle. I can’t help but think that one of these days we might be subjected to some curfew of the sort. Flogging the new initiative over teargas and rubber bullets is inhuman and it’s an act of torture. This initiative is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 Article 24 and Article 44(a) which provide that no person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that there shall be no derogation from the enjoyment of the freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment respectively.

The acts that were witnessed by many as bodaboda riders and other citizens were being flogged by police officers both in uniform and not in uniform amounted to torture as per the definition of torture provided under Section 2(1) of The Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012. The flogging and systematic beating amounted to an act of torture as per the provisions set out in the Second Schedule of the Act.

Superior officers coming up to defend those acts was a weak act and it showed how much they are not ready to accept their mistakes and how they were not affected or bothered by these degrading inhuman acts. I believe that the police can do better to protect and respect people’s rights and let Ugandans enjoy their freedoms as provided by the Constitution and other laws of Uganda. Let us not sit back and watch this torture and mistreatment happen all over again.

We are in this together, let us stand strong together, let our hearts be together and let us fight against police brutality.




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