Police questioned over excessive detention of suspects and use of buckets as toilets

Lawmakers on the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday asked senior police officials to apologize for irregularities highlighted in the auditor general’s report for the last financial year.

These irregularities included the detention of suspects beyond the stipulated 48-hour rule and the continued use of a shared bucket as a “toilet” by detainees at several police stations.

However, SCP Felix Baryamwisaki, police ICT director, rejected the lawmakers’ request for an apology, citing budget shortfalls and delays in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as the main reasons for the continued use of cubes. . sanitary conditions in cells and excessive detention of suspects, respectively.

“They are busy abusing constitutional provisions by detaining suspects beyond the stipulated time of 48 hours. And I have a concern because one of the police stations with this record is Kasangati, is it because it is close to the residence of Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi and Dr. Kizza Besigye?” -asked the PAC president, Mr. Muwanga Kivumbi.

Kivumbi further reasoned that “if the police do not have the capacity to investigate and present the suspects for trial, they should be granted bail,” adding that the police are using detention beyond the constitutional deadline as bait for arrests. extortions.

“Sometimes the files of these suspects are in the Public Ministry and their continued stay in the cells is always on the advice of the Public Ministry and some of these suspects are habitual criminals,” SCP Baryamwisaki responded.

In his 2022/2023 report, Auditor General (AG) John Muwanga noted that at least 362 suspects were found to be detained for more than 48 hours in the sampled 42 police stations. The Attorney General further noted that of the 60 police cells sampled, a total of 19 were still using the banned toilet bucket system.

“In this era, the cube system is still used. This is very primitive, we need a list of all those cells that are still using the bucket system so that as Parliament we can allocate money specifically to eliminate the bucket system instead of adding money for tear gas,” Mr Kivumbi said.

Committee members were also upset by the auditor general’s findings, which indicated that several police stations did not have separate holding cells, grouping women, men, children and people with special needs in the same cells, and only 11 of them the 72 in the sample Police stations that have all the cells for each category.

“Considering that the police have a construction unit and if they really considered the separation of suspects as a matter of priority, they would have built these separation units and this is giving rise to other vices such as sexual abuse,” said Ms Sarah Opendi (Tororo deputy). .

Ms. Gorreth Namugga, Vice President of the PAC, argued that although almost all government entities face financial constraints, “the failure of the police to separate the elderly and children puts the health and mental health of these children at risk.” “.