By Fred Kiva
The Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola has warned against torture of suspects as an investigative technique.
Addressing Regional Police Commanders, Heads of specialized units and Directors during opening of their four day retreat at the Senior Command and Staff College Bwebajja on Monday, Ochola emphasized eradication of violation of rights of suspects especially torture, urging Police officers to “always act with self-control and tolerance”, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy.
“Do not under any circumstances inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of inhuman or degrading treatment (torture) to any person. You should only use force to the extent that is necessary, proportionate and reasonable, in all the circumstances,” he said.
At the same event the IGP launched the Uganda Police Force Human Rights Policy, a tool that will guide the security agency in observance and protection of human rights. Several human rights reports, including those of the government’s Human Rights Commission have always ranked Police as the leading human rights violator.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) in its 20th report released mid last year, ranked the Uganda Police as the top human rights violator with 419 cases recorded against the security agency in 2017.Although the report indicated a decline in the number of cases reported against the police from the 620 cases recorded the previous year, IGP Ochola ordered that all police officers must observe human rights and be accountable to the people they serve.
“Observation of human rights and public accountability by all officers. All police activities must be initiated, conducted, and reported in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations and should be conducted with due respect for the rights and privacy of those involved,” the IGP emphasized.
On the other hand Ochola warned the police against dealing with crime preventers who he said have since reverted to UPDF. Crime preventers recruited under the reign of former police chief Gen Kale Kayihura to beef up police operations in communities were on many occasions accused of torturing suspects and engaging in crime.
Since the President directed last year that the crime preventers revert to UPDF as members of the reserve force, the army has vetted them and picked some of their leaders for further training in Kyankwanzi.
Addressing his officers Ochola said “Crime preventers can may be only volunteer information to police like any other ordinary person but not as part of the Police Force.”