KAMPALA- Security minister Gen Elly Tumwiine on Tuesday defended the use of guns and excessive force by security agencies during protests and described the effects of such actions as occupational hazards.
Addressing a joint state briefing at the media centre in Kampala on Tuesday, Gen Tumwiine said during situations of violence, the rules of engagement change and that the public should not blame the security forces when they shoot people or demonstrators.
“Section 28 of the Police Act says that a fire arm can be used against a person resisting arrest or arrest of another person. If the police stays stop I advise you, stop. Don’t say ‘I have a right as a journalist to do this,” he said.
“Some of these are occupational hazards, because for the armed forces, the rules of the battle change after the first bullet. You might have planned for the battle, but after the first bullet, the situation changes and anything can happen. It therefore depends on how the commander or the security personnel on the ground handles the situation,” he added.
The minister was referring to the recent incidents where citizens were shot dead in the Free Bobi Wine protests in Mityana and Kampala.
He alluded to the United Nations Guidelines on the use of firearms, saying a firearm can be used to arrest a person resisting police authority “and if a bullet hit you in the process, you would have died legally”.
However, Gen Tumwiine reassured the country that all officers that were involved in the alleged killing and torture of people are being investigated.
He however couldn’t confirm whether any officer has been arrested and is facing procession, including the two police officers in Mityana who opened fire in a commuter taxi, before abandoning their weapons and fleeing.
“We are still awaiting a report from Mityana on whether these have been arrested,” he said.
Gen Tumwiine said the Chief Of Defense Forces, Gen David Muhoozi has since constituted a Board of Inquiry to investigate the culpable army officers, whereas the Inspector General of Police Martins Ochola has opened a general inquiry into the police officers involved.