Torture: Police must come clean
Posted Saturday, October 5 2013 at 01:00
Several human rights reports have ranked the Uganda Police for years running as the leading torture agency in the country. This is borne out by the frequent images of policemen beating up or shooting at peaceful protesters ...
The flagrant torture (captured on camera) by half a dozen officers of a young man, Mr Kassim Suuna – a former employee of Mukwano Industries – outside the factory gate on Tuesday, has once again put the Force in the spotlight.
Only last Saturday, we published in these pages the story of Mr Godwin Wafula, another young man in Mukono, who had gone to pick his little sister from school but who in the end was tortured and killed by anti-riot police on the false assumption that he was part of rioters protesting the death of a timber dealer – who had been shot dead by unknown persons but suspected to be police officers.
Regardless of the right or wrong of the two young men, there is no justification for the torture they were subjected to resulting in death of Mr Wafula and possibly permanent disability for Mr Suuna, who is currently hospitalised.
Yet these are not isolated incidents of rogue police officers meting their lawlessness on people they should instead be protecting. Several human rights reports have ranked the Uganda police for years running as the leading torture agency in the country. This is borne out by the frequent images of police officers beating or shooting at peaceful protesters beamed across television news nearly every evening.
We have not seen any concerted effort by the police leadership to rein in their lawless officers beyond press briefings that the Force does not condone abuse. This has reinforced the perception that either there is tacit approval at the top or there is just no willingness to stamp out the problem.
The police leadership must this time round move beyond the rhetoric of public reprimands by the Inspector General of Police we have come to see on TV time after time. Instead, there should be severe punishment as an example to the rest of the officers. Only then will Ugandans begin to feel safe around the police.