Uganda’s president on Sunday issued several guidelines to the countries’ security agencies, instructing them on how to manage crowds, deal with protesters and conduct arrests.
The guidelines follow several incidents of brutal arrests and much publicised reports of torture by opposition politicians at the hands of police and military officers.
The president started off by issuing guidelines on managing crowds that include supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and visitors of the country.
‘‘You should never push (kutsindika) people that are enthusiastically surging forward to show support for the NRM or the President,’‘ said the president.
The president added that law-abiding Ugandans ‘must never be beaten, pushed or barked at for any reason’.
Managing rioters and protesters
The president was however not as generous with people he described as ‘rioters, criminals, looters, terrorists and traitors’.
‘‘I think the use of water cannons is the best way – it is strong, non-lethal and not noisy; tear-gas, rubber bullets should be discouraged because they are noisy and, sometimes, they can affect unconcerned people,’‘ advised Museveni.
The president added that if rioters persist, after police has used shields and sticks to stop them, then the security forces can use live ammunition.
‘‘If rioters do not stop…Police can use live bullets by first firing in the air…fire directly at the rioters to protect the lives and property of citizens or protect themselves from the rioters,’‘ explained the president.
Museveni, whose 32-year rule of Uganda has been challenged by several political opponents explained that it is critical to effectively manage protests for three reasons.
- No Ugandan should lose his life or property on account of the acts of these criminals.
- The transport of Uganda, the markets of Uganda and any other legitimate and legal assemblies of our people should never be interfered with by these criminals.
- The image of Uganda as a stable country, good for Ugandans, tourism and investments, should never be disturbed.
How to conduct arrests
The president also issued guidelines on arrests, following the public uproar after an opposition official was brutally arrested in Kampala last week.
‘‘Once rioters are arrested or any other criminal, he/she should never be beaten by stick, fist or rifle butt. It is unfair, unnecessary and gives a bad image to the country,’‘ counseled the president.
He added that arresting officers ‘ always identify themselves so that the public knows that they are legal operators’.
Using the army to police civilians
On the use of the Special Forces Command and the military in managing civilian protests, Museveni explained that it was necessitated by the infiltration of the police force by foreign agents.
‘‘The involvement of the SFC, Military Police and CMI in handling law and order issues has been caused by the kawukumi (bean weevils) that had invaded the Police.’‘
Summary of Dos and Don’ts
- Never push people who surge forward towards leaders out of enthusiasm (kutangirira); you should restrain them (kuzibira) but not push them.
- Never bark at people (kubogolela); you should advise them (kuhabura).
- Use water cannons if they are available; if they are not available you should use shields and sticks.
- Tear-gas and rubber bullets are, of course, non-lethal and can be used but they are noisy.
- Use live bullets if the rioters persist and threaten life or property.
at the rioters.
- Once rioters are arrested or any other criminal, he/she should never be beaten by stick, fist or rifle butt.
- The arresting officers should always identify themselves so that the public knows that they are legal operators.