What you need to know:
- The recent bomb blasts in the outskirts of Kampala and on a bus bound for Bushenyi on the Kampala – Mbarara highway have greatly affected us as nation. Destroying lives, instilling fear and destroying property. And we need to find a multi-pronged approach to this.
- There is need to pursue locally driven, cooperative initiatives, tailored to local context, to increase effectiveness.
To scale down the number of Covid-19 infections, the President recently imposed a second lockdown limiting public and private transport, cross border movements and reduced physical presence at work places, among other measures.
We condemn terrorism with all its form and manifestations. No circumstance or motive can justify terrorism. Undoubtedly, the fight against terrorism should be conducted at all times in compliance with the Rule of Law, International Human Rights Law and Government commitments.
Community is all we are. The recent bomb blasts in the outskirts of Kampala and on a bus bound for Bushenyi on the Kampala – Mbarara highway have greatly affected us as nation. Destroying lives, instilling fear and destroying property. And we need to find a multi-pronged approach to this.
The community oriented approach is the best strategy to fight terrorism. We cannot limit ourselves to the traditional military, security and law enforcement responses in order to mitigate the threat of terrorism. There is need to pursue locally driven, cooperative initiatives, tailored to local context, to increase effectiveness.
Communities must adopt counter terrorism strategies, objectives, policies, and measures. Strong community cohesion is necessary. For instance, if communities in Kyanja-Komamboga where we had the bomb blast on Saturday had notified security agencies of big crowds who gather beyond curfew hours without strong security measures something would have been done. There is need for this comprehensive approach to security which will provide comparative advantages in combating terrorism. For instance, community policy as a strategy is very beneficial.
I also believe that a strong community policing is necessary in the fight against terrorism. There is need for clear collaborative efforts between the police and community to move effectively and efficiently identify, prevent and solve the problem of crime. This multi-dimensional approach with multi sectoral/stakeholder co-operating at all levels in order to meet security threats and challenges will combat terrorism. We become the watchdogs in our villages, we devote ourselves to detect, prevent, and fight terrorism activities.
Community policing as part of a comprehensive human rights compliant strategy to prevent terrorism. This includes public partnerships between police, other public authorities and communities to practice problem solving. Among the benefits of community policing include increasing public vigilance and resilience, public perception, improve communication with the public on counter terrorism, anchoring policing into respect for human rights and the Rule of Law, helping to identify and address community safety issues and grievances and facilitating timely identification and referral of critical situations.
The manner and degree to which community policing could benefit counter terrorism depend on the level of trust and cooperation that already exists between the police and the public. In the case of Uganda significant time and police effort may be required to rebuild public confidence, explain stakes in engaging and provide evidence of tangible benefits of such engagement for the community.
Like in all approaches there are risks in applying this approach which include over reliance on community policing, stigmatizing particular communities through selective engagement, securitizing their relationship using risks to individuals engaging with police, among others. Without prejudice intelligence led policing and community policing are complimentary but distinct approaches. The latter is beneficial and worth prioritising now than ever.
Countering this phenomenon successfully requires society support including civil society and businesses. The broader public and individual communities are stakeholders and partners in countering terrorism. I also emphasize public support, participation, and effectiveness. There is need to locally tailor and locally driven initiatives that draw on partnerships beyond traditional security practitioners.
Generally, these community policing tools/strategy requires sufficient planning and preparation so as not to undermine public trust and support anticipate and mitigate risks involved, provide adequate training for community police officers in their expected roles in preventing terrorism, prepare timely communication, clarify and evaluate impact of community policing efforts to prevent terrorism.
Ms Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso, Member, Leadership Code Tribunal.
PhD Candidate & Researcher