Internal Affairs Shadow Minister Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi has labelled the trial of the Kiboko-happy policemen as a total circus.
The police leadership dragged five police officers to the Bukoto based Police Professional Standards Unit following local and international outrage over the barbaric behaviours of policemen who whipped supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye recently.
Though sections of Ugandans and human rights activists welcomed the trial, Muwanga Kivumbi thinks otherwise:
“That is complete circus. Kayihura (Gen. Kale Kayihura the head of Police), > is taking Ugandans for fools and he should stop it,” Muwanga argues.
He qualifies his statement by asking why it is only junior police officers who are being made to face the music.
“Where are the big fish? Why is it only the silver fish (mukene) that are being indicted?” Muwanga charges.
The DP Member of Parliament for Butambala, contends that since the suspects were acting on orders of their bosses when they whipped people; the bosses should be prosecuted as well.
But the Butambala MP and many others who think like him will probably be shocked to learn that Gen. Kayihura has support of many in government.
One of the foremost support of whipping as a means of crowd management is Gen. Moses Ali. Gen. Ali declared that beating is a lot better reprimand than tear-gassing people.
But Gen. Ali’s statement cannot be taken casually. It seems to suggest that beating people is an official policy of government. Why? Moses Ali is one of the deputy prime ministers and as such a very senior member of the cabinet who is privy to inside information by that fact.
Media rights activists push back blame
In the meantime, advocates of media rights have told Gen. Kayihura to stop blaming the media for his men’s brutality.
Gen. Kayihura addressed a news conference last week in which he accused the media of being selective in their portrayal of events.
Kayihura said: “The images that were shown on television and social media were selective. They did not show the whole incident where crowds threw stones at the police. That is not journalism.” Gen. Kayihura said in a systematic attack to the media.
Robert Ssempala, the Coordinator of the Human Rights Network of Journalists (HRNJ-Uganda): advised that: “In a pluralistic society, the media is not supposed to report what is only favourable to emotions of the police or the State, but also information that may be disturbing and, or annoying. That is what is meant by freedom of expression and free flow of information and ideas in a democratic society.
Ssempala revealed that Gen. Kayihura’s tendencies of presenting excuses is not the first time.
“This is not the first time that the police leadership is shifting blame for its erroneous acts to the media. Notable among the numerous times is the 12th October 2015 incident, when the IGP and the police spokesperson Fred Enanga independently told journalists that the television media were biased when showing the Forum for Democratic Change mobiliser Zainab Naigaga being undressed during her arrest,
Ssempala pointed out that freedom of expression and the media is well entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and therefore the police needs to respect it.