President Museveni has ordered for the ‘immediate release’ of suspects arrested on charges of ‘idle and disorderly.’
According to Mr Museveni, no person should be arrested for this crime.
“H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda has directed that no person should be arrested for the crime of "Idle and disorderly". The president has also directed that all those already arrested for this crime, be released immediately and prosecution discontinued. I hereby instruct all police officers to fully comply with H.E the president's directive on the above subject matter,” the Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola said on Tuesday in a letter to all police directors and regional police commanders.
Mr Ochola further said the president had directed that all the people arrested by the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) enforcement personnel in Kampala and are in prison for failure to pay a fine of Shs 1 million be released immediately but warned not to repeat the offence of selling merchandise on the pavements.
“By copy hereof, the Executive director of Kampala City KCCA is also asked to comply with the directive of H.E President of the Republic of Uganda,” Mr Ochola added in a letter copied to the minister of internal affairs.
This is not the first time Mr Museveni is directing police to stop arresting Ugandans for ‘idle and disorderly.
On February 9, 2016 the President ordered police and other authorities to stop arresting people for being “idle and disorderly”. He recited the order which has never been implemented in the State of the Nation address 2017.
The president made the first order while addressing his supporters at Kazo grounds in the new Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District.
Addressing his supporters ahead of the February 2016 presidential elections, Mr Museveni also tasked his aides at State House to remind him to engineer the repeal of the law criminalising ‘idle and disorderly’ persons.
No such legislation to repeal the order has ever been brought before Parliament more than three years later.
Section 167 of the Penal Code Act criminalises wandering persons, those gambling for cash or prostituting as being idle and disorderly and if convicted in court, they, if prostitutes or involved in soliciting for immoral purpose, face a maximum seven years imprisonment. Other aspects of the offence attract three months in jail or Shs3,000 fine or both.
Critics say the law on being idle and disorderly, said it was enacted during the colonial era and is now outmoded and oppressive and should be abolished. Uganda Prisons officials have complained that prisons are crowded with petty offenders, most of them on remand, imposing unnecessary burden on resource-constrained detention facilities.