By Our Reporter
The Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura says Police is not out to harass and block the civil society and opposition parties but to enforce the provisions of the Public Order Management Act.
Gen. Kayihura told the Parliament Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Wednesday that the Uganda Police Force is committed to ensuring the enjoyment of rights and freedoms as provided for in the Constitution.
“The Police that organizers of public meetings adhere and fulfill the requirements of the law which is being misrepresented as blocking civil society and political activists from carrying out their activities, and specifically, discussing political reforms,” said Gen. Kayihura.
He said that Police was well aware that leaders of political parties carry out their business through public meetings, but appealed to the leaders to respect and adhere to the law while organizing these meetings.
“Before this law was passed, the management of public order was not streamlined at all, and therefore, the need to come up with a comprehensive law to address all lacunas and adequately address issues of enforcement concerning public order management,” he said.
The Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs invited the IGP to explain why the Police was blocking members of the civil society and the Opposition parties from holding public meetings. The Police have recently blocked various public meeting organized in Mbale, Soroti, Kabale and Kasese.
Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju (FDC, Kyaddondo East) wondered whether the Police was permitted to block Opposition politicians from appearing on radio stations, even when they have paid for talk shows.
The IGP, however explained that where the law was followed, Police allowed public meetings to go ahead in Mbarara Boma Grounds on March 7, 2014; Bunyonyi Public Primary School, Nyendo, Masaka on March 8, 2014; Homeland Hotel, in Bushenyi on March 14, 2014; and at the Youth Centre, Tororo Municipality on March 21, 2014.
He said that notifying the Police about a planned meeting gave time for the Force to carry out background checks about the organizers and determine whether the proprietor of the venue has permitted the meeting to be held there.
“The unfortunate incidents in Mbale, Soroti, Kabale and Kasese where the meetings were not held, were due to the simple reason that the law was not followed,” Gen. Kayihura said.