PARLIAMENT- The government has proposed a constitutional amendment to remove the rule that requires police to produce suspects in court within 48 hours of arrest.
The State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Obiga Kania together with the police command, led by the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola, appeared before the committee of Human Rights to answer queries from the 19th Annual Report of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC).
The UHRC report recommended that Uganda Police Force (UPF), should prioritize the implementation of the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Act (PPTA) 2012 and UPF should adhere to the law and equip its officers with the necessary facilities to enable them efficiently perform their duties and fulfill the constitutional obligation of bringing suspects to court within 48 hours.
The Human Rights committee vice chairperson, Ms Safia Nalule (NRM, PWD National), tasked the delegation about the status of police officers that have been prosecuted according to the UHRC report which recommended that the errant officers be prosecuted under the PPTA 2012.
“I would like to know the status of the police officers that have been prosecuted for torture, those who have been acquitted and those arrested so far,” she said.
The police Director of Human Rights and Legal Services, Erasmus Twarukuhwa while responding to the issues, said the police Forcee was implementing the PPTA where they need to present a suspect in court with 48hours.
“The requirement to bring the suspects to court within 48 hours has a lot of challenges. Some magistrates work only for a few days and over a wide area. The 48-hour rule is not very realistic in all cases. It is our intention to propose a constitutional amendment where the rule will apply to the majority of cases but not all,” he said.
Twarukuhwa further informed the members that the errant officers that have tortured suspects will be brought to book according to the Act.
“The Uganda Police Force (UPF) has started prosecuting errant officers that perpetrate torture. Currently four officers have been taken to court for acts of torture committed against the mayor of Kamwenge; officers who assaulted a worker at Mukwano industries; the officers that assaulted Dr. Kizza Besigye; the DPC who assaulted the journalist was convicted and the necessary procedures for his dismissal has commenced,” he said.
Hon. Veronica Isala Eragu (NRM, Kaberamaido), said the 48 hours that are given are enough to produce evidence in court.
“Other countries are working at reducing their time and Uganda is working at removing this or increasing the time is the police serious? 48 hours is a very long time to catch a criminal and carry out the necessary investigations,” she said.
Hon. James Waluswaka (NRM, Butaleja) asked the IGP to expedite the promotions of the police officers that were due for promotions.
“IGP please make sure that these officers are promoted. Some officers have been here for more than 6 months why are they not promoted?” he asked.
The IGP said that prosecutions were being handled and that they will continue keeping the country safe.