KAMPALA – Police has on June 10, disregarded the Constitutional Court ruling on dispersing public rallies and vowed to continue doing so with powers vested in them
Police has asserted that they will continue disbanding political gatherings as they have been doing in case of the situation warranties because they have powers to do so.
On May 31, the Constitutional Court, in a lead judgment written by Justice Kenneth Kakuru declared section 36 of the Police Act unconstitutional noting that it authorizes and legitimizes brutality against citizens.
Other justices in the judgment are Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
The ruling meant that police powers to disperse public gatherings had been reduced; a move which incited mixed feelings from the ruling and the opposition parties.
Fred Enanga the police spokesperson said the force still has powers to disperse gatherings as it deems fit.
“We acknowledge the decision of the court to nullify some sections of the Police Act but there are other provisions in the Public Order Management Act that give us mandate to police unlawful assemblies including violent protests,” Enanga told journalists.
According to Section 36 of the Police Act “empowered a police officer who, upon dispersing a rally, the persons continue assembling, to use such force as is reasonably necessary for overcoming that resistance and could not be liable in any criminal or civil proceedings for having used that force to cause harm or death to any person”
“The same law (Section 36) also gives immunity to the police who kill citizens of this country. Under this law, the police officers cannot be prosecuted or held in any way accountable. The victims cannot get redress through civil suits instituted against individual officers or their supervisors.
The law as it is permits the police to torture, maim, injure and extrajudicially execute Ugandans without any retribution whatsoever. This law does not just condone, but it authorises and legitimises police brutality,” the court ruled.
“The government cannot complain against acts of police brutalising the people with impunity as long as Section 36 of the Police Act remains on our statute books. Even if government and the police leadership intended to punish an errant officer, such an officer would seek refuge and protection under the impugned law,” the court added.
The Court however reduced the powers saying it was allowing impunity on the side of police officers while carrying out their duties and later walk away free.
Enanga explained they will continue policing and stopping unlawful societies including rallies.
He said they may lead to disturbance or incitement of peace and or