KAMPALA – Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola has directed all police units to stop arresting people on the offence of being idle and disorderly and also release suspects already in detention.
In a letter issued on Tuesday, October 1, Mr Ochola said he was implementing the directive from President Museveni.
“H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda has directed that no person should be arrested for the crime of “idle and disorderly”. The President has also directed that all those already arrested for this crime, be released immediately and prosecution discontinued. I hereby instruct all police officers to fully comply with H.E. the President’s directive on the above subject matter,” he wrote.
“The President has further directed that all the people arrested by the KCCA enforcement personnel in Kampala and are in prison for failure to pay a fine of shs.1 million be released immediately but warned not to repeat the offence of selling merchandise on the pavements. By copy hereof, the Executive Director of Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is also asked to comply with the directive of H.E. the President of the Republic of Uganda,” he added.
Mr Ochola’s directive follows Mr Museveni’s Monday, September 30 letter, directing police and the Attorney General to immediately release all suspects detained on charges of idle and disorderly and further directed that the prosecution withdraws all such cases pending in courts.
“Why should this be a crime? If I am unemployed and I hang about the park, why should somebody accuse me of the crime of ‘hanging’ around (okwehugizaaho)?” the President wrote.
Mr Museveni said the offence of idle and disorderly was intentionally brought by colonialists who feared the Africans being around without doing anything could be a threat to their rule.
“In the meantime, I direct that all people that have been arrested on account of this nonsensical crime to be released immediately and all prosecution discontinued because, in any case, the Police and the Courts have got more real crimes that they need to deal with,” Mr Museveni wrote.
He said resources being spent on arresting and prosecuting Ugandans on being idle and disorderly should be chanelled to tackling murder, rape, robbery and embezzlement among others.
The President has also ordered prison authorities to release all people who were arrested by enforcement officers of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and have since been incarcerated after failing to pay Shs1m fine for vending merchandise on streets, but sad they should not return to the streets.
Mr Museveni observed that spreading merchandise on the street pavements and shop verandahs in Kampala interferes with the pedestrians and the shopkeepers, but ordered that those in prison be “released immediately. However he warned that they should not repeat the offence of selling merchandise on the pavements.”