Gen Tumwine’s last interface with media

Then Security minister Gen Elly Tumwine appears before the Human Rights Committee of Parliament on September 4, 2019. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • It was alleged that on June 22, at 3pm while at Kazo-Rwemikooma road at a junction leading to Gen Tumwiine’s home, Court bailiffs who had arrested Mr Steven Rwanyabushozi were blocked by military men commanded by Gen Elly Tumwiine and ordered to release the suspect. On July 1, Monitor's Felix Ainebyoona contacted the four-star general. This was Gen Tumwine’s response:

“First of all, it is true that I stopped people whom we suspected were kidnappers because the court bailiffs connived, compromised, and abused their duties on the pretext of collecting debts.

And this particular group—that court bailiff called Kamusiime and the particular policemen whom they work with—had on a previous occasion decided to kidnap one of the people with whom they were having a case in court and they came flagging a warrant of arrest and they did not get it.

While they knew the procedure on how to execute a court order, they never followed any of the procedures. 
Instead, they reached the home of that person called Rwanyabushozi. 
He was not there, [so] they broke the doors.

While that was happening, I called the [district police commander] DPC of Kazo, who told me that he was not aware about that operation and he said he had not sanctioned it. 

He asked me the name of the policeman who had deployed himself and he called them back.
So, we have been trying to find out because there is a procedure on how court orders and court warrant of arrests take place. 

When they are all aware that this is not an isolated case, the public [is] now terrorising me.
I cannot allow court bailiffs, money lenders and some of the judicial officers who are terrorising the public using the police, who are corrupt to extort money from people, grabbing them and throwing them in police cells and demanding money from them.

In this particular case, first of all when they failed in the first instance and they saw that they had not gone through the right channels, then they went to get letters from police. 

Even the warrant of arrest itself is clear that police’s role should not participate in the arrest. Theirs is to witness, but in the first case they are the ones who were breaking the doors and threatening the family.

When they came they reached that person’s home and just found him in the sitting room, grabbed him and the policeman grabbed him by the belt and he begged: “Can I put on my clothes? Can I put on my shoes?” They said: “no.” Then he begged: “Can I talk to my wife?” They said: “Where is the phone?”

They rushed, grabbed the phone from the charger and they confiscated it and he said: “Can I tell my wife who is in the trading centre that I have been taken?” They said: “No.”

So when they had done what they wanted to do and drove, I got information that somebody had been grabbed. 

And with the background of the previous experience, I waited on the road. 
When they came, I said: “Who are you people who are kidnapping people?” 
They said they were court bailiffs; then they showed me a court order.
It was very clear that the action was illegal. 
They were abusing the court process. Those so-called officers of court. 

They had not done the necessary required procedure of getting letters from police headquarters, regional police commander, and the DPC and they had violated all the human rights when the arrest warrant said police should witness everything to ensure that everything is done in an orderly manner.

The letters from police headquarters are very clear that everything should be done in a peaceful and humane manner. 

These have not only violated human rights, but are holding someone incognito and throwing him in prison and extorting money from them.

I had got an exhibit of the arrest document showing how they had tried an illegal act, and I was ready to take them on. 

Now this is following many other cases of people who are being grabbed by the connivance of bailiffs, some court officials, including some corrupt magistrates who do not follow procedure, the law in a way of extorting money.

If you go to the prisons of police cells, most of the prisons are about debts. If you are going to affect a civil matter, especially if you arrest somebody without informing a local authority, inform the LC I. 
In all these cases the LC I was not aware. And once you arrest somebody, you must inform next of kin of the immediate person, but these cases are so many.

We have started an offensive against terrorising the people by Kafuna people (money lenders) using police to collect debts. 

Police cells now are filled to extort money from the public, and we are going to reach the end of this and use it as an example.

There is very much public outcry and concerns. I have discussed it with the IGP who has set up an investigation into the whole matter. 

So it is being independently investigated and we shall come to the end of all this. 
I want to tell you that we are not going to allow any abuse of human rights of the people by corrupt police, or corrupt court bailiffs, corrupt money lenders who do not follow the procedure. 

You do not arrest someone on a civil matter like a capital offence.
Those who are claiming to be officers of court are the biggest violators of law, and they are the ones abusing justice and the court. It is not one, it is not two, it is a normal practice! 

The public is terrorised and we are not going to continue like that. We shall stand against it. 
I did what I could to rescue someone who had been abducted and manhandled inhumanly and he did not know where they were taking him. 

That was a rescue of an abducted person mishandled from his home on a civil matter and by the police and court bailiff. 

Police’s role and the instructions from police leadership were to witness; not to participate in the arrest.