Human Rights Committee condemns brutal arrest of women MPs

Members of Parliament of the Committee on Human Rights have condemned the manner in which women legislators were arrested outside Parliament.

The legislators said their colleagues were arrested in a brutal, inhumane and disturbing manner which violates their constitutional rights.

This, they said while meeting Uganda Police Force leadership led the Director of Human  Rights, AIGP Erasmus Twaruhukwa  and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo over the alleged brutal arrest of MPs and other related matters involving errant police officers.
“Now days, the way police arrests Ugandans is disturbing. I don’t know whether the training has changed or it is a practice…This talk of errant police officers is happening everywhere even at the gate of Parliament. These are not errant officers anymore; this is just the standard operating procedures for police,” Hon. Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County) said.

On 27 April 2023, 11 women MPs clad in black gomesi attempted to march from Parliamentary Avenue to the office of the Minister of Internal Affairs to deliver their petition of dissatisfaction over continued blockage of female Opposition MPs from holding post Women’s day celebrations in their constituencies.
Hon. Sowedi Kitanywa (NRM, Busongora County North) called for equal treatment and protection of all political leaders regardless of their political parties.
“The Opposition female MPs believe that when they are conducting their Women’s day celebrations they are being mistreated. As an NRM leader, you are making our government look ugly because you are only looking at opposition,”  Kitanywa said.

AIGP Erasmus Twaruhukwa allayed the MP’s fears saying that police only arrests those who contravene the law without consideration of their political party affiliations.

He said that the female MPs were arrested in such a manner because they had turned violent and rejected guidance from the territorial commanders.
“The DPC Parliament offered a vehicle to take them to the Ministry of Internal Affairs but they objected and continued with their intended demonstration and ultimately turned violent prompting the Police to exercise their constitutional mandate to restrain them,” Twaruhukwa said.

As a result of the MPs’ actions, Twaruhukwa said five female police officers were assaulted and three of them are currently admitted at Iran Uganda Hospital, Naguru while the other two were treated and discharged.

DPP Abodo said the incident was unfortunate and regrettable.
She advised that police officers are frequently trained on how to resist provocations from the public or protesters.

In the same vein, she also condemned members of the public who assault police officers on duty.
“I have worked with police for 24 years now and I can’t say violence and brutality is the order of business in Police, we accept some of them are not doing a good job and we should be able to sit down with police and handle it,” Abodo said.