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Police criticized over deplorable, inhumane living conditions of suspects under detention

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has criticized Uganda Police for the deplorable and inhumane living conditions suspects under detention are living, after the Auditor General revealed that many police stations are forcing women, men and children to use buckets as toilets, while sharing the same cells.

In the December 2023 Auditor General’s report, it was noted that out of the 72 sampled station across Uganda, only 11 stations had separate cells for the women, children and men, with police revealing that Uganda has 2,131 police stations, the MPs argued that the results from the samples taken by the auditors indicated that the problem is highly pronounced.

Aggrey Wunyi, Under Secretary, Uganda Police acknowledged the challenges raised by the auditors and noted that the situation is being addressed with the construction of new police stations across the country that cater for these amenities.

“We had challenges in the old structures and mostly where the Police is renting. But where the Police have constructed our own office accommodation, we have separate cells for male, female and juveniles. When we are building new police stations now, we have detention facilities for the male, female and juveniles,” said Wunyi.

Sarah Opendi (Tororo DWR) described the current conditions as unacceptable saying the sharing of cells among men, women and children could exacerbate the issue of domestic violence in case some of the women leave cells while pregnant.

“I find this unacceptable considering that the Police has a construction unit and if it really looks at this as an issue, it would definitely construct those structures however small they may be. It is really a shame that in this era when the population of Uganda has greatly increased, that out of the sample, 11 facilities don’t have various cells for the women, men and children. Maybe we can start with you, we hold you today in one cell, men and women so that you experience it. Some people may leave the cells pregnant and you are actually causing domestic violence,” said Opendi.

Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) wondered why Police isn’t issuing these suspects bond instead of holding them for days, lengthy detentions he says is hampering suspects from participating in production, which in the end affects the growth of the economy.

“There are 2131 Police stations and the Auditors just sampled 42 and in just those, the Auditor General made a yield of 362 and some of the police stations are in shops without proper facilities. This brings the number to 1815. That was the number at the time of the audit, you could have over 1800 Ugandans detained without trial for more than 48hours unconstitutionally. How can those performances give you a good record?” said Kivumbi.

The Public Accounts Committee also quizzed Uganda Police Force over the Shs921,250,559 approximately Shs11,055,006,708 per annum paid to 1,655 staff who had retired, deserted or deceased but were not immediately deleted from the payroll as of 30th June 2023, with auditors warning that the failure to delete these individuals means Police’s payroll and manpower were overstated.

The MPs also queried the 2,042 ‘ghost workers’ found on Uganda Police’s payroll after these never appeared for the February 2023 verification exercise conducted by the Auditor General, of which, 1,347 individuals were confirmed dead, absconded or retired, while 695 had received salaries worth Shs355 million but could not be accounted for by Police.

The Auditors also discovered that 17,636 staff on Police’s main payroll had inconsistencies in their names (1,736), NINs (292), date of birth (15,162) and gender (446) as captured on payroll and NIRA records.

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