Early this week a London based friend of mine sent me an ironical massage saying that Ugandans should create a special force to protect them from the brutality of the police. The irony is that Ugandans must be protected from the police that are supposed to protect them.
The police seem to have forgotten that they have a contract to keep law and order, shameful and deserves condemnation.
Police brutality today predominantly manifests itself in the form of unjustified and extreme physical violence towards protesters and journalists.
The public won’t rest as police tramples their rights. This time they have vowed to pay the police in their own currency. A total of 20 private lawyers have been lined up to take on police chief, Genera Kale Kayihura next week.
The Inspector General of Police is expected to appear in the Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court on August 10, to answer to charges of alleged torture.
He is charged alongside seven of his senior police commanders in connection with the recent brutality of Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s supporters who were allegedly beaten by the police in Kampala.
I have been engrossed in obscure thoughts for some time. Something seems to beat my understanding. If both the police and the civilians are wild, who actually provokes the other party’s wildness? Let’s assume that a wild civilian population invites a wild police, does this explain the issue at hand?
What about if we looked at it from another angle? Can’t a wild police force also attract a wild civilian population? I have a conviction that if one event can spark off another then such a vicious circle is likely to cause mayhem.
It is almost cliché to talk about an epidemic of police brutality or the militarization of police departments. But what is occurring is a more intricate and interesting social dynamic than mere brute force. Generally speaking, however, a state prefers to avoid the use of brute force.
It will directly attack those for whom the average person has no sympathy or patience, such as drug addicts. And a prudent state will avoid inflicting direct violence upon the man on the street because it relies upon some level of cooperation from him.
The state does not want average people to view it as an enemy to be resisted or evaded. So why is the police are now acting like a military force that is occupying the streets of an enemy nation?
We should note that all over the world the Police are increasingly militarized and this poses a threat to the civilians. During President Obama’s gun control push, he argued that ‘weapons of war have no place on our streets’. This, however, did not sink well into people’s ears.
Local police are often equipped with weapons powerful enough to conquer a small country. As if this is not bad enough many police departments have cultivated an “us vs. them” mentality toward the public they ostensibly serve.
Although possession of these weapons does not cause misconduct, as the old saying goes, when you have a hammer everything begins to look like a nail.
In March 1991, members of the Los Angeles Police Department harshly beat an African American suspect, Rodney King, while a white civilian videotaped the incident, leading to extensive media coverage and criminal charges against several of the officers involved.
In April 1992, hours after the four police officers involved were acquitted at trial, the Los Angeles riots of 1992 commenced, causing 53deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses.
After facing federal trial, two of the four officers were convicted and received 32 months prison sentence. The case was widely seen as a key factor in the reform of the Los Angeles Police Department.
There has been a notable lack of commitment to addressing the violation of civilians’ rights in Uganda and very few people who committed a violation of human rights were brought to justice.
This has been worsened by the fact that many people who made a complaint against police were brought up on counter-charges such as resisting arrest, defamation and assault. The officers accused of misconduct are arrested and released.
This catch and release is a form of recreational fishing and cannot bring sanity and professionalism in the police force. The perpetuators must be held accountable.