Police officers live in unimaginable conditions- Report

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The Uganda Human Rights Commission has revealed that Police Officers in Uganda are living in extremely and unimaginable deplorable living conditions, where some officers are sharing rooms that are only separated by curtains.

“The research found that generally, the living and working conditions of UPF personnel were wanting, and in some cases, it was too extreme, unimaginable levels. The situation of housing/accommodation in UPF was dire with institutional accommodation largely dilapidated; comprising shared rooms partitioned by either curtains or makeshift boards; condemned structures and uniports unfit for human habitation,” remarked Mariam Wangadya, Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission.

Wangadya made the remarks while handing over a report to Deputy Speaker Tayebwa at Parliament on the research conducted on the welfare of Uganda Police Force, titled; ‘Squeezing Water out of a Stone?

Working and living conditions of the Uganda Police Force personnel and their implications on observance of human rights’, Wangadya defended the title of the research paper arguing that Uganda’s police personnel were giving a lot more than they were receiving.

“It was amazing how, in their given conditions, they could still manage to provide any service. At times they had to share guns, ask complainants to transport officers, use “wanainchi” (civilians) to carry accident victims, use ropes in lieu of handcuffs, walk with suspects to court in the absence of vehicles; and use observation to detect crime in lieu of required gadgets, among others. Nevertheless, some of their strategies were found to be high risk with a likelihood of causing or promoting human rights violations,” added Wangadya.

UHRC also revealed that many Police officers lived between 3-8kms away from workstation, while 3% lived more than 8kms away even up to 14kms, yet despite this, Uganda Police administration does not facilitate their staff with organised transport to and from work yet they were on call 24 hours.

“Junior personnel were the most disadvantaged in terms of acquiring decent housing as they were often displaced from institutional accommodation by senior personnel. Some personnel opted to live in their homes or voluntarily rent outside institutional accommodation but these faced concerns about their personal security outside the barracks as well as affordability of decent housing that maintains the corporate image of UPF,” remarked Wangadya.

UHRC also revealed that during the research, 70% of Police Officers in Uganda reported unfairness in deployments, transfers and promotions, due to underhand methods, corrupt tendencies, favouritism, tribalism, nepotism, ‘technical know-who’, bribery or kickbacks and this is worsened by the poor pay.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa thanked Police officers for continuing to work despite the challenges they are facing and called for a deeper study on the impact of their silence of Police officers and further establish why more Ugandans are fighting to join the Force despite the current challenges the Force is facing.

 “That does not mean they should not be demanding for these services, they should be demanding for them, but I really want to thank them, no one has stopped work because they do not have housing, but now we have to go and study-what is the impact of this silence, are they finding other means, why are many people dying to join Police, despite these conditions,” Tayebwa said.

“Police put up an advert, I have received over 100 calls, help me I join Police. Is there another driving factor, is it corruption, are they finding a way of mitigating the situation? It is something we should interest ourselves as a Government and just do not say these guys are doing a great job, they are comfortable and we take it for granted,” Tayebwa added.