Busoga police tipped on pre-trial process to observe suspects’ rights

Officers in a group photo after the sensitization workshop on Friday, January, 19, 2024

Jinja, (UG): The Director of Human Rights and Legal Services in Police, AIGP Erasmus Twaruhukwa has tasked police officers to implement the Uganda Police Human Rights Policy stressing the need for all officers to observe, protect and promote a human rights-based approach in their day-to-day policing.

According to Twaruhukwa, there is need to master the principles of the human rights approach at all times, that is to say, constitutionalism and rule of law, human dignity, accountability, transparency, non-discrimination and participation.

AIGP Twaruhukwa was on Friday January 19, 2024 addressing over 100 police officers who were drawn from the three policing regions found in Busoga sub region; Kiira region, Busoga East region and Busoga North region during a one-day sensitization workshop in the pre-trial process requirements in order to ensure observance of suspects’ rights. The workshop was held at Source of the Nile Hostel in Jinja city.

The Director lectured the officers to ensure that the 48 hours rule should be adhered to without being over defensive and also stated that arrest should be sanctioned by superior officers and ascertain that rights of suspects are observed at every step of administering justice.

“To avoid cases from dying from the word go, conducting arrest should be sanctioned by superior officers and rights of the suspect(s) should be observed from the time of arrest up to the time of being arraigned to court,” AIGP Twaruhukwa said.

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In the workshop which attracted a number of officials, the grade one magistrate Jinja magistrate’s court His worship Ochieng Eyafes pointed out that the stakeholders in the pre-trial process include police, office of the DPP and the Judiciary citing arrest, investigations and appearing in court as the three stages of trial.

The grade one magistrate stressed the rights of suspects which are not limited to the right of being informed in a language he/she understands right from the time of arrest, informing parents or guardians in the case of juvenile offenders, right to have next of kin or lawyer informed as soon as possible, right to apply for police bond, right to compensation in of unlawful arrest and detention, right to fair hearing, right to be presented to court within 48 hours among,

He emphasized the right not to be tortured adding that torture has no justifiable reasons whatsoever. Other rights quoted were right to apply for habeas corpus, right not to incriminate oneself among other rights.

A section of officers who were drawn from the three Busoga policing regions

However, Twaruhukwa cautioned against members of the public from resisting lawful arrests, obstructing justice and exhibiting violent behaviour before, during and after the arrest or in the due course of justice in the pre-trial process especially those who turn to be hostile witnesses.

H/W Ochieng stated that police have a role to determine whether a case is criminal or civil before making an entry in the SD Ref book adding that it’s a common practice for CID standby at the counter to register a civil case as criminal emanating from land cases and debt collection he said 50 per cent of the cases to do with obtaining money by false pretence are civil cases and such cases tarnish the image of police, cautioning officers to desist from such bad practices.

He encouraged officers who are witnesses in several cases to always be available when called upon to testify to avoid unnecessary adjournments and subsequent dismissal of cases simply because police officers not appear in court to testify.

The regional DPP Ms Glady Nyanzi categorically stated that police work feeds into prosecution and prosecution feeds into judiciary before briefing the officers about the role of office of the DPP in the pre-trial process.

She said; “a serial offender should have clear information over related cases not on different cases and officer recording charge and cautious statement should be done in a language the suspects understands then suspect should countersign on it not the translated English version. Strictly one officer should record one charge and cautious not same officer recording more than two.”

The RPC Kiira region SSP Rogers Sseguya thanked police management for their top-level commitment towards coming up with the human rights policy to guide policing, before pledging as Kiira region to implement the policy.

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The regional CID Kiira; SSP Monday Johnson Agaba said, “Since Busoga sub-region was ranked as the leading in human rights violations my team is committed to bringing down the figures and in the subsequent rankings, Busoga sub-region will be ranked among the best in implementing human rights approach to policing.”

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