Rethink policy on LDUs and KCCA law enforcers

Sunday July 19 2020

Local Defence Unit personnel arrest a man

Local Defence Unit personnel arrest a man during demonstration over food relief at Kasubi, a Kampala suburb, on June 16. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI  

By Editor

On Friday, two hawkers were picked up by the police in connection with the stabbing two city law enforcement officers at the New Taxi Park. One of the enforcement officers is fighting for his life, which is very unfortunate. We have him and his family in our prayers.

This incident, however, once again turns the focus onto Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) law enforcers. Whereas the police has not revealed what sparked off the fight, we have been informed that it was an attempt by the enforcers to grab items that the hawkers were vending that led to the unfortunate incident.

KCCA enforcers have etched themselves quite a name for being brutal and insensitive, which has at times led to death.

In 2017, Olivia Basemera plunged into the Nakivubo Channel and drowned while being pursued by KCCA law enforcement officers. That death did very little to cause a change in the way they operate.

Up to now, it is not strange to see vendors, many of them women, abandoning their merchandise, mostly fruits like bananas, oranges and passion fruits, and fleeing at the sight of the law enforcement officers.

We do not condone continued violation of trade rules in the city or indiscipline on the part of the hawkers and vendors, but we do believe that incidents such as that attack could be avoided if the enforcers went about their work in a more humane manner.

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The attack on the KCCA enforcers also comes against a backdrop of accusations levelled against members of the Local Defence Units (LDUs) for going about the enforcement of restrictions imposed in the name of fighting the spread of Covid-19 in a very brutal manner. They have beaten and killed people in various parts of the country, which is totally unacceptable.

There are indications that President Museveni has suspended the operations of LDUs and directed that they be sent for retraining, but we need to have a rethink about the recruitment, training and deployment of LDUs and law enforcement officers.

There are no guarantees that a person trained in human rights and the law will not be brutal, but chances are that he will not be brutal because he is more knowledgeable.
Similarly, whereas there are no guarantees that a person born in say Kawempe will not be brutal to the people in Kawempe, chances are that he will not be if he is deployed there.

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