Deputy Speaker pledges to fast track Justice, Law and Order sector reforms
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, has said that Parliament will fast track the reform of the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS).
He was responding to a research report on the welfare of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) presented by the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Mariam Wangadya, presented to parliament.
Tayebwa said that the amendment of the Judicature Act that has seen the number of Judges and other judicial officers increase has caused a mismatch between the judiciary and the Uganda Police Force.
“If we are to do an equal system of a well ran criminal justice law and order system, then we have to ensure that we do not have mismatches where by one sector is deeply looked at and the other sector is not looked at,” he said.
Tayebwa said that Parliament will scrutinise the reforms and the UHRC will present its recommendations at committee stage.
“We have looked at prosecutors and last financial year we exempted their salaries from taxes which was a very big boost to the prosecution side but now, we need to look at the investigation side,” he said.
Key highlights in the report of the UHRC included; shared and dilapidated accommodation by low ranking officers, shortage of protective gears, as well as continuous displacement of junior officers from police quarters, forcing them to rent accommodation far from duty stations.
“I want to thank the officers for working very well even under such conditions. No one has stopped working. Now we need to find out why despite these challenges, they are still working and others are dying to join the force,” he said.
Tayebwa also expressed concern over the Force’s medium term expenditure ceiling of Shs841 billion, against the proposed Shs3.2 trillion budget.
He said the ceiling leaves a lot of unfunded priorities, thereby affecting operations of the force.
Tayebwa also re-assured the commission that all pension funds for public officers will be provided for in the Financial Year 2024/2025.
“Pensions are easily covered because they are statutory obligations. There is no negotiation about it,” he said.
Wangadya urged Parliament to consider increasing the budgetary allocation to the UPF to improve working and living conditions of the police officers, which will in turn enhance observance of human rights by the security personnel.
“The accommodation is dire, comprising shared rooms portioned by either curtains or makeshift boards. Some of them told us that it hard for them to get children because of these conditions,” she said.
She added, “Some share guns, use locals to carry accident victims, use ropes as handcuffs and walk with suspects to court.”
Wangadya said that the research shows a linkage between the living and working conditions of the police force personnel and their observance of human rights.