Following the disturbing footage on television, showing police officers beating up people who were lined up along the streets in the city suburbs to catch a glimpse of Dr Kizza Besigye, the Uganda Police has promised to investigate the incidents.
Much as the ‘prompt’ reaction, one that was arrived at after several complaints from the public, is welcome, it also begs questions as to whether there is a commitment for the force to end the highhandedness of its officers.
First, the Police have asked NBS TV to provide it with the video coverage of the beastly acts perpetuated by the men in police uniform, something that puts to shame any reasonable force worth its name. Indeed, it is needless to mention that any modern police force needs to have a media team that handles matters to do with its image. Even the UPDF, which does not ordinarily deal with civilian matters, has a team, fully equipped with a service van, cameras and recorders, for purposes of keeping records and accountability.
On several occasions police officers have been caught on video footage, taking photographs or videos mostly when handling matters to do with the opposition. So, it is probable that those police ‘photographers and cameramen’ are not just overzealous; but are actually facilitated and tasked to execute these duties.
So, the natural question would be: ‘why do the police then need the NBS footage’?
Anyhow, the beatings that were carried out by men in police uniform were acts of criminality and need to be investigated and the public given accountability as to why things happened the way they did.
That said, unless the NBS video footage is being sought as part of the investigations into criminality, it is the duty of police, using its own facilities, to follow up on the ‘media tip’ and bring its wayward officers to book.
Otherwise, asking for the video footage from the NBS could be interpreted as an attempt at intimidating the media, something that is unacceptable!