Security must stop barbaric arrests 

Thursday March 25 2021

Many people were detained and later dumped in bushes without a single charge against them after months of torture in detention.

By Editor

The security agencies should exercise professionalism and civility in arresting suspects. Professional security agencies in modern times do not brutalise suspects during arrest. The brutality by security forces while arresting, especially perceived anti-government suspects, shows there is still a long way to go to achieve professionalism. 

The violent arrest of Mr Guy Smith, an American citizen, at his home in Fort Portal last Sunday, was embarrassing and devoid of any iota of professionalism. The arresting security personnel behaved like an armed gang rather than a team of police officers. 

Like a gang, they invaded his home at night, broke into his house and car. The arrest was so bizarre that residents first mistook them for robbers and tried to confront them only to realise they were police officers.

The subject of the illegal arrest [the American] has been  living in Uganda for about 20 years. He has a home and family. There was no need of breaking into his house at night without the knowledge of the local leaders. Police could have summoned him for interrogation over the charges against him. He would have obliged. 

They could have asked him to open his car and house if they wanted to carry out a lawful search. Vandalising the car and breaking the house are acts not related to the investigations. They are barbaric acts of no prosecution value. And why move in numberless or concealed-number plate vehicles which hides identity if the operation is lawful?

The arbitrary arrest of Mr Smith is not unique or new. In the last couple of months after the General Election, police and other security agencies have been behaving the same - arresting Opposition supporters they accuse of committing various crimes.


Government first feigned ignorance of the arrests and  disappearances of the suspects until public pressure forced Internal Affairs minister to concede and table a list of the missing people arrested and held by security agencies. 

Dozens have since been released without charge while others have been charged in court of law. Hundreds have not been seen to-date.

The barbaric manner in which the security agencies arrest suspects is the same way they bungle investigations and later lose cases in court.

Many people were detained and later dumped in bushes without a single charge against them after months of torture in detention. One wonders why they were arrested in the first place. The procedure is to first investigate and later arrest. Instead, our security agencies are doing the opposite. 

They behave like the proverbial marksman who first shoots and aims later.