Police Leadership Issues New Orders On Deportation, Handling of Suspects

Police leadership through the director of operations Assistant Inspector General of Police –AIGP Edward Ochom, has issued new orders on deportation of foreigners and handling of suspects in police cells.

Ochom warns police commanders and investigators that they should avoid expeditious deportation of foreigners as this risks lives of the victims and tantamount of abuse of human rights and deportation laws.

“Any deportation, if at all, must be handled through the legal process. This is to safeguard against abuses of deportation. If when mishandled, can be injurious or disadvantage the country,” AIGP Ochom orders read in part.

The Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act in section 52 describes some of the people who can be deported and they include a destitute; a person who refuses to submit to a medical examination after having been required to do so as stipulated in section 50 of the same Act and any person against whom there is in force an order of deportation from Uganda made under this Act or any other law for the time being in force and any person whose presence in or entry into Uganda is, or at the time of his or her entry was, unlawful under this Act or any other law for the time being in force.

Other people who can be deported include any person who has not in his or her possession a valid passport or any person who is a drug trafficker and who is living, or who prior to entering Uganda was living, on the earnings of drugs or drug trafficking or trade; a person who as a consequence of information received from the government of any State, or any other source considered reliable by the Minister or the commissioner, is declared by the Minister or by the commissioner to be an undesirable immigrant; but every declaration of the commissioner under this paragraph shall be subject to confirmation or otherwise by the Minister.

But on several occasions such deported guidelines have been flouted and victims grabbed and sent back to countries where they run from. For instance, senior police officers among others Senior Commissioner of Police –SCP Joel Aguma, Assistant Commissioner of Police –ACP Herbert Muhangi, Senior Superintendent of Police –SSP Nickson Agasirwe and SSP Richard Ndaboine were are facing charges in Army Court on allegations of kidnaping and illegally deporting Rwandan political asylum seekers.

Away from deportation warnings, AIGP Ochom has also cautioned commanders including detectives against keeping suspects in cells for more than 48 hours. This warning has already been pinned at various police divisions and units.

Mistreatment of civilians in terms of beating them during operations or barking at them whether in office or field have also been prohibited. “Ensure that suspects are not kept in police custody for long without subjecting them to courts of law. Even criminals apprehended should not be tortured,” AIGP Ochom’s directive reads in part.

Article 23 (2) states that a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be kept in unauthorised place authorised while (3) states a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be informed immediately, in a language that the person understands, of the reasons for the arrest, restriction or detention and of his or her right ta lawyer of his or her choice.

Section 4 (b) states that “A person arrested or detained for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of an order of a court; or upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his or her arrest.”

The fountain of honour Yoweri Museveni a few weeks ago condemned his own security agencies for brutalizing Ugandans in terms of beating them, detaining them for long periods without trail and subjecting suspects to torture.

To prove his concerns about security agencies’ conduct against civilians, Museveni showed videos of a policewoman clobbering a helpless lady in the guise of enforcing directives intended to control the spread of Covid19. Pictures of naked, torture and maimed suspects in the attempted assassination of Gen Edward Katumba Wamala were also shown. Four of the 12 suspects in Gen Katumba attack were shot dead.

AIGP Ochom has also reminded investigators that use of torture to extract information from suspects is archaic and outdated. “Avoid all forms of torture during investigations or interrogation to obtain confession and admissions from suspects. Do professional investigations, interviews and interrogations that are devoid of torture to ensure convictions in courts of law and defeat lawlessness,” AIGP Ochom adds.

The prevention and prohibition of torture Act 2021 defines torture as any act or omission, by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes of obtaining information or a confession from the person or any other person, punishing that person for an act he or she or any other person has committed, or is suspected of having committed or of planning to commit; or intimidating or coercing the person or any other person to do, or to refrain from doing, any act.

Although expressed his disgust about brutality and torture against civilian in addition to AIGP Ochom’s orders, human rights lawyers Najib Kasule is skeptical on whether police and sister security agencies will ever respect such guidelines. Kasule believes there is lack of enforcement of such guidelines for security personnel to know that their commanders were not doing public relations.