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OPINION: Kirumira Should Face Trial in an Ordinary Civil Court

Having broken into his house like burglars in the full glare of press cameras it is now difficult to believe that the same force’s Police Tribunal (Disciplinary Court) can accord ASP Muhammad Kirumira a fair trial.

The video footage of the arrest at home and the beginning of the trial where Kirumira’s bail was cancelled strongly suggest that there might be personal vendettas and scores to settle, informed by the current Military Police crackdown on “criminal gangs” in the police which Kirumira has for long been speaking against.

While a  beleaguered UPF may understandably be struggling to do some damage control and clean up its tattered image Kirumira’s “kangaroo trial” will not help that cause.

It will only confirm the worst suspicions and fears about the police force especially its top leadership.

Kirumira like any other Ugandan should enjoy all fundamental rights guaranteed under our laws.

He should not be tortured or subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. His right to a fair hearing requires that the Police Court to try him should be competent, independent and impartial (Article 28 (1)).

But the circumstances and context of this trial and the Police Court’s conduct exhibited so far, however, suggest that the court may not be competent, independent and impartial as required by the law.

What harm will the Uganda Police Force suffer if Kirumira is formally charged and prosecuted before an ordinary civil court? The Police Act allows this. The nature of commissions and omissions Kirumira is being tried for in the Police Court are essentially criminal in nature. If the police have the evidence it should be able to produce the same in a civil court and secure Kirumira’s conviction. That way all suspicions of a witch hunt will be cleared. Justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done.

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(By Former Minister Asuman Kiyingi)

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