Police Blast Otafiire On Preventive Arrests


page geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The controversial minister was last week quoted by a local newspaper as saying “preventive arrest is not in our law books, this web and if anyone is doing it, then he is doing it against the law.”

The debate on the legality of the preventive arrests has been raging on after opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye accused Police of illegally arresting him from his residence in fear of his role in political protests.

Police have since argued that such “preventive arrests” are aimed at thwarting possible violence and destruction of property which would arise from the opposition-led protests.

But Otafiire threw a spanner in the works when he condemned Police for such actions.

Police publicist Judith Nabakooba says “while Article 212(c) of the Constitution broadly mandates the Police to prevent and detect crime, Section 24 of the Police Act specifically tasks the Police to proactively remove and detain a person, in order to prevent the person from committing an offence, or engaging in other acts that would cause harm to himself, other persons or property.”

The Section provides that ‘A police officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the arrest and detention of a person is necessary to prevent that person from causing physical injury to himself or herself, or to any other person may arrest and detain such person.”

The Section gives four more grounds to empower police to act in a preventive manner. These include if a person is suspected of planning to cause loss or damage to property or an offence against public decency in a public place; or unlawful obstruction on the highway.

Nabakooba says Section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Code similarly empowers the Police to proactively arrest certain persons.

“The procedure for the disposal of persons arrested in such manner is clearly defined by the law,” she argued.

“In 2011, following a challenge to Police action, the Court ruled that Preventive Arrest is a valid law, and further guided that persons so arrested should be detained at Police Stations, but not for more than 48 hours. The Police have adhered to the law when engaged in the prevention and detection of crime.”

Nabakooba said it is, therefore, “erroneous and misleading for anyone to suggest that the Police have acted in contravention of the law, in arresting persons in order to prevent them from committing crimes; or that such law does not exist.”

Critics say government has been using “preventive arrests” to deny political activists their civil liberties which include right of movement and assembly.


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