Police brutality on the rise in Uganda

Peaceful Assembly

On 4th August, police raided a beauty pageant in a Kampala nightclub organised by Uganda's LGBTI community as part of the annual pride celebrations. The police claimed that a gay wedding was taking place without proper authorisation as required by the Public Order Management Act. The police locked the gates of the nightclub and detained more than sixteen people. Out of a fear of being arrested, one person jumped from a six storey window and was subsequently hospitalised in a critical condition. Those detained reported being assaulted by police either during arrest or while in custody

During the last two months, there have been increased incidents of police brutality towards protestors, especially of opposition supporters. On 12th July, following the release from prison of opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye, police officers used electric cables, sticks and clubs to disperse supporters who were following him to party offices in Najjanankumbi. The Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura, condoned the police conduct, saying “the use of tear gas and rubber bullets has been eliminated. The only option remaining for the Commander at the scene is use of water cannons or baton charge.”

Association

On 21st June, the offices of the Refugee Law Project in Kampala were broken into. The incident followed break-ins at the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum and the Forum for African Women Educationists, which was previously reported in the CIVICUS Monitor. The offices of the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda had also been broken into on 10th April. The police have so far failed to successfully investigate the burglaries or identify the culprits.

Expression

On 12th July, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U) cautioned journalists against registering with the Media Council, a body which was created under the Press and Journalist Act of 2005. The Media Council should consist of twelve members with at least some journalists represented. However, all members are appointed by the Minister of Information. There are currently eight members, out of which 2 represent a non-existent entity called the National Institute of Journalists Uganda. The Act is currently being challenged in Court by HRNJ-U, the East Africa Media Institute and the Center for Public Interest Litigation.