Lynching can be stopped by police
Posted Thursday, February 28 2013 at 09:10
Buikwe District police commander Paul Kakamba became the latest law enforcement officer to make an appeal against the unrelenting scourge of lynching of suspected criminals.
Mr Kakamba’s Monday call, which is likely going to be ignored, came shortly after the police had rescued yet another suspected motorcycle thief from being dispatched.
Lynching of suspects is a throw-back to a barbaric era where mankind gave short shrift to due process. It is unlawful, summary and prone to making victims of innocents in cases of mistaken identity. But it remains a popular form of meting out what its proponents prefer to call ‘instant justice’. Its defenders also suggest that the violence with which lynching is carried out has grown to serve as a useful deterrent.
Some explanation for this behaviour can be found in the performance of the justice law and order sector. Aggrieved victims of crime say -- not without justification -- they are tired of being helpless in the face of perceived police inaction. Chicken thieves, violent thugs, common pickpockets and motorcycle robbers are the torment of communities around the country partly because of the inadequacies of law enforcement.
Anecdotal evidence points to communities disillusioned because when they have helped apprehend certain suspects, the individuals spend a short time in police custody, only to return to plague the streets within weeks or even days. Thus, the commonly held view that rogue officers are accomplices of the criminals – reportedly receiving a cut from the illegal takings as ‘protection fees’.
Frustration with the justice system shouldn’t, however, be beyond salvage. Being the field law enforcement agency, police can improve its performance in detecting, preventing and investigating crime. One way to restore public confidence and hopefully dampen the popularity of summary executions of suspects is to show determination.
This calls for better training and motivation of police personnel, weeding out or punishing miscreants within its ranks whose actions have allowed known criminals to continue roaming the streets and ensuring timely reaction to tip-offs.
The Force also has to re-orient its priorities. Its leadership must remember that there is more to maintaining law and order than the current pre-occupation with lobbing tear gas canisters to disperse legitimate protests at the behest of the sitting government.