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Reduce Police Powers & Use of Arms, says Security Minister :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Reduce Police Powers & Use of Arms, says Security Minister

Security Minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa has asked the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to revise the powers of the Inspector General of Police while overseeing demonstrations and public meetings.

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Security Minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa has asked the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to revise the powers of the Inspector General of Police while overseeing demonstrations and public meetings.

The Public Order Management Bill 2011 gives powers to the IGP to permit or refuse a public meeting to take place. It also grants the police boss the powers to hear an appeal of a rejected request to hold an assembly. It is such powers that the minister wants to be handed to the Minister of Internal Affairs. Bestowing power to appeal on the Minister will adhere to the administrative review procedures, according to Mukasa.

On the use of firearms, the minister wants the clause reviewed to give specific conditions when arms can be used by law enforcement officers. Muruli advised that the use of firearms should be specific to when the demonstrations have turned violent.

According to United Nations, law enforcement officers are not supposed to use firearms except in self-defense or when faced by an eminent threat of death or serious injury. The principles of using firearms also state that the law enforcement officer may use firearms only when the less dangerous means are not practicable.

Minister Mukasa also advised the committee to revise the minimum number of people gathering. The bill provides that the minimum number is three. The minister suggested that the number be put at 50 or more people. He explained that it is normal for three people to meet but would not mean they have constituted a demonstration group.

Mukasa, who is also MP for Budyebo County in Nakasongola district, suggested that the bill should provide for the compensation of any person who suffers loss, damage or personal injury from the activities of the organizers or participants in the public meetings.

The bill, tabled in October, is intended to regulate public meetings, the duties and responsibilities of police, the organizers and participants in relation to public meetings. It in particular seeks to manage public order in partnership with the organizers and participants in assemblies, demonstrations and processions.

The bill also seeks to specify the procedure to be followed when organizing an assembly, a procession or demonstration as well as the penalties and sanctions to be imposed upon those found in breach of the proposed law.

Opposition groups and human rights organisations are, however, opposing the bill arguing that if passed into law in its current state, it would infringe on people’s rights to expression and assembly.

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