13 OCTOBER 2015
The Ministry of Internal Affairs
The Speaker of Uganda Parliament
The Inspector General of Police
The Uganda Human Rights Commission
RE: POLICE BRUTALITY AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AHEAD OF 2016 UGANDA ELECTIONS
We, concerned citizens of Uganda,
Outraged by the recent brutal actions of the Uganda Police towards opposition politicians and supporters,
Cognizant of Uganda’s history that is tainted with gender specific crimes against women by security forces,
Mindful that Uganda’s General elections are four months away,
Appalled that our Police has exhibited that it is ill-prepared to ensure law and order in an impartial, non-discriminatory and civil way:
Do address you as follows:
It is with great horror and disappointment that, on October 10th 2015, Ugandans watched police officers arrest members of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party on their way to Rukungiri for their party mobilization activities. Members of Parliament duly elected by Ugandan citizens were roughed up and some slapped and shoved.
This is not the first time that the Uganda Police has targeted women in politics, to humiliate, embarrass, intimidate and violate their bodies. Similarly humiliating actions were committed against opposition MP Nabilah Nagayi and FDC Secretary for Organisation and Mobilisation Ingrid Turinawe as well as other ordinary women outside the public’s gaze. Police has also stood by as ordinary women are harassed and undressed on the streets.
Continuing in this tradition of perpetrating and sanctioning violence against women, the police dragged, shoved and stripped Zainabu Fatuma, the FDC Secretary for Environment who was exercising her right to political participation as guaranteed under Article 29 (e) of the Constitution. Fatuma was stripped not just of her clothes but of her human dignity contrary to Article 24 of the Constitution of Uganda
The actions of the police undermine all the gains that Uganda, human and women’s rights movements have made over the years. We only recently celebrated 20 years of the constitution and 53 years of independence from colonialism. The Constitution of Uganda is unequivocal about the rights of women as guaranteed under Article 33. The police, like all other institutions and individuals, are expected to protect, respect and fulfill these constitutional rights.
We, concerned Ugandans, will not standby as these violations are ignored by those supposed to protect us. We wish to express our shock, disappointment and outrage at this treatment of Ugandan Citizens, particularly women, at the hands of Uganda Police Force.
We therefore demand:
A full and public apology from the Inspector General of Police for this mistreatment of Ugandans at the hands of the Uganda Police is issued.
That the IGP and the Ministry of Internal affairs ensure the police desist from humiliating those exercising their right to political participation. This is important in order to give a leveled playing ground to ensure fair, credible and peaceful 2016 elections. So far Uganda Police have failed Ugandans by openly being partisan in exercising their duty to protect and serve Ugandans and to maintain law and order.
That the IGP reins over errant police officers to restore true patriotism, discipline and professionalism as is expected from Uganda Police under Article 212 of the Constitution.
IGP reins over errant police officers to restore true patriotism, discipline and professionalism as is expected from Uganda Police under Article 212 of the Constitution.
IGP ensures that the police officers who perpetrated this hideous crime are taken through a fair, transparent disciplinary process and punished accordingly. The actions of the Police officers in undressing Fatuma are reprehensible. These despicable acts by those entrusted to protect Ugandans should not go unpunished.
That concrete steps be taken by the IGP to get redress and compensation for victims of such violence as well as prevent future abuse of Ugandans peacefully exercising their right to civic participation.
Members of Parliament revise laws like the Public Order Management Bill that emboldens the police to violate the rights of citizens and to ignore the Constitutional Court decision that reaffirmed freedom of assembly.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission impartially investigates and prosecutes these human rights violations perpetrated by police, bringing the case to a logical and fair conclusion.
We re-state that
With elections coming up, it is especially important that Ugandans should be able to exercise their civic rights without fear of abuse.
We therefore call upon the Uganda Police to respect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Ugandans while performing their duties and respect the law that extols them to use only reasonable force in making arrests. The Uganda Police must treat every Ugandan (woman or man) with the dignity and respect they deserve regardless of their political affiliation even while making an arrest.
We, as concerned Ugandans, expect the institutions we have entrusted with responsibility to protect and not harm us. But where they fail, we shall do whatever it takes to carry out the constitutional obligation to defend our rights and those of our fellow citizens.
We concerned citizens of Uganda will not relent in demanding for adherence to Uganda’s Constitution, Accountability from State Organs who derive their powers from the people of Uganda; Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights.
We citizens of Uganda stand together to say No More to police brutality!