Uganda: Families of riot suspects fail to trace them at police

Mamos Media

Armed men in plainclothes patrol downtown Kampala on November 19 on the second day of protests following the arrest of NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine in Luuka District. PHOTO/ STEPHEN OTAGE

By Andrew Bagala

Relatives of hundreds of suspects arrested during the recent protests over the incarceration  of National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine nearly two weeks ago, have failed to trace them in any police detention facilities.

Police and other security agencies arrested more than 800 people but less than 400 people have been released on either police bond and court bail or have been remanded to prisons. Some relatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being picked up by security agents, said their loved ones were arrested from their workplaces or homes by armed men in security vans, locally known as drones, that had no registration number plates.

The missing suspects were arrested at Kisekka Market in Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division and Makindye Division during and after the protests.

Some of the relatives told Daily Monitor that they visited various police facilities but failed to locate where their people had been detained.

The relatives said they also visited the police Directorate of Crime Intelligence in Bukoto and the Special Investigations Division headquarters at Kireka, Wakiso District, but did not find their people there.

Some relatives told Daily Monitor that some of the suspects were handed over to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) for interrogation. This claim was reiterated by police sources who told Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity that the suspects in the protests were transferred to CMI.   
However, both the army and police spokespersons were not definitive on where the suspects were being held.

 The deputy army spokesperson, Lt Col Deo Akiiki, could neither confirm nor deny the detention of the suspects at CMI. 

Lt Col Akiiki said it is possible if any security agency has interest in someone arrested over a crime, it can ask for the suspect from the lead agency in order to interrogate him or her. However, he did not say whether the CMI had asked for the suspects from police in the case of the protesters.  

 “The police is the only institution that can comment on the arrest of those protesters because it is the lead agency in the operations,” Lt Col Akiiki said by telephone yesterday.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said he did not know whether the suspects were in CMI or police detention since he had not received a report from the investigating teams.

“I am waiting for a report that will be given to me tomorrow (today) then I will be able to know about all the suspects arrested. We have the record of everybody arrested,” Mr Enanga said yesterday. He added that said one person, who claimed his relative was arrested in Kawempe Division, Kampala City, had approached him, but his information was contradicting.

“We have infrastructure such as CCTV cameras that can be used to know who was arrested. Most people who were picked, it was done in view of CCTV cameras and they were identified,” he said.

Mr Enanga said the operation in the city and its suburbs was done by different teams and if the relatives share the information they have, police will be able to crosscheck.

While addressing journalists last Monday, Mr Enanga said 836 people had been arrested in the protests of November 18 and November19. He said 362 had been charged in court and 330 were remanded to prison. He added that 32 were released on court bail while one was given police bond. This means 473 remained in custody. 
The Constitution provides that a suspect arrested over any crime must be arraigned in court not beyond 48 hours (two days). The suspects in the protests who were not charged in court have been in detention for more than a week now.  
Last week, NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi said some of their supporters were being picked from homes by security personnel and driven to unidentified locations.

In 2017, Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola issued directives that the Force should ensure suspects are not detained beyond 48 hours.

He directed that suspects are entitled to be visited by their relatives and lawyers.’

Culled from Daily Monitor.

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