The government has officially apologised to FDC’s Ingrid Turinawe over the indecent manner in which she was arrested early this year.
Making a formal statement to Parliament on issues raised by the Leader of Opposition, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said the government was “deeply sorry to Ingrid Turinawe, her family, her friends, and indeed all the women, and the country at large” over the experience that the police subjected Ms Turinawe to.
However, Mr Mbabazi asserted that the person who carried out the arrest was not a man. Ms Turinawe and other opposition leaders have always maintained that she was manhandled by a male officer in what they condemned as a sexist attack designed to humiliate the victim.
The Premier went on to identify the officer as Police Constable Irene Alinda. “Police Constable Alinda is very remorseful and regrets what she did. She l acted unprofessionally, and out of tune with the standards of the Uganda Police in carrying out arrests or using force,” Mr Mbabazi said.
Ms Turinawe’s case came to national attention early this year when her breasts were publicly fondled and squeezed by someone in police uniform during one of the arrests she was subjected to as she tried to drive from her home to the city at the height of the ‘walk-to-work’ campaigns.
The Prime Minister said Ms Alinda would face disciplinary action: “Her action was unnecessary, improper, and unacceptable and she must be held to account.” “The IGP has ordered that W/PC Irene Alinda be tried by the Police Headquarters disciplinary court on charges of discreditable conduct and behaving in a cruel, disgraceful and indecent manner, under the Police Act (Code of Conduct).”
However, while giving the apology, the Prime Minister said: “We must not lose sight of the genesis and the background of the incident, especially the circumstances surrounding the incident and who had primary responsibility for its occurrence.”
According to Mr Mbabazi’s report, the commander in-charge on the scene ordered four female officers to make up the arrest team. Mr Mbabazi said despite being informed that she was being placed under arrest, Ms Turinawe defied police. “Indeed, she struggled with them, grabbing the steering wheel and hitting and biting the officers,” he said. “Had she cooperated with the police, as other political leaders did during the same occasion, the question of her arrest and the subsequent incident in question would not have arisen,” Mr Mbabazi said. “In fact, Ms Turinawe drove into one of the officers repeatedly, in fact, this was a serious assault and it was, therefore, appropriate that she be arrested.”
However, the Shadow Attorney General, Mr Abdu Katuntu, poked holes in Mr Mbabazi’s accusations against Ms Turinawe, saying the Prime Minister was not doing justice to the matter albeit the apology.
“Justice denied is not justice to anyone,” he said. “Being fictitious because someone wants to justify the actions of a police officer and portray Ingrid as a devil who wants to kill police officers is wrong and regrettable,” Mr Katuntu said.