Thursday June 26 2014

Stop Police shootings and killings of civilians

By Editorial

The government’s deployment of Police Flying Squad to northern Uganda to check the violent crimes in the region is a belated but good move. Similarly, the planned registration of resident foreigners, especially from South Sudan, should tighten up the security and bring down the crimes so people can pick up their businesses again.
What is more, government should help the residents achieve closure. This means the police move must be reinforced by positive action from other state agencies, especially the Judiciary, which is at the forefront of conflict resolution. Equally, intelligence agencies such as Internal Security Organisation with widespread on-ground presence should up their game in crime detection as crime is a multi-faceted and cannot be stopped single-handedly by Police.
Over all, the Police Flying Squad should widen its dragnet beyond Acholi and Lango so as to sweep in more criminals, including from West Nile region.
More importantly, the order by Uganda Police Force chief Kale Kayihura to have arrested three police officers in connection with last Friday’s shooting of a 13-year-old boy in Jinja is welcome. But to do more, the IGP should ensure the family of Ntale, a pupil of Nakanyonyi Primary School in Jinja, would be the last of families he would rush to condole this year. This means the Force should move quickly and stop the several cases of police involvement in shooting of civilians elsewhere in the country.
First, it was John Oboth, 30, a Tororo-based motorbike taxi rider, reportedly shot during a police swoop on unlicensed boda boda operators early June. He died of the bullet wounds on Tuesday at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. This was the second shooting in Tororo this year.
The first was in May when Richard Ojulo was reportedly shot dead at home following a chase by patrol police officers. Other officers are being held over shooting dead another suspect in Gulu early June. Such shootings must be stopped because they run counter to the prescribed roles of the Uganda Police Force, which must be professional, disciplined, and protect life and property of Ugandans.
Indeed, the Force’s gesture to condole the victim’s families though helpful does not make amends for the lost lives. Even as the authorities respond to these crimes and have arrested some of its officers, more should be done.
Therefore, for true justice to be served, the Police Professional Standards Unit should conclude investigations into these cases, and have charged or punished officers found to be liable for the criminal offences.
As a quick fix, the Force’s use of live ammunition during arrests and crowd control should be restrained. That is why news that all officers will undergo refresher training to enforce discipline is good.

The issue: Security
Our view: The extra mile is to stop police shootings and eliminate crime.