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Burora arrest: MPs question overreach of parliamentary police

Anderson Burora in court

Anderson Burora in court

Last week, the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court remanded former deputy resident city Commissioner (RCC) Anderson Herbert Burora to Luzira Prison on charges of hate speech.

Burora was apprehended on July 1, 2024, from his home in Ntinda-Kigowa and detained at Kira Road police station before being transferred to the Central Police station Kampala. His arrest was carried out by officers from the parliamentary police.

According to the prosecution, between March 2024 and June 2024, in Kampala district or nearby areas, Burora used a computer via his X handle, formerly known as Twitter, to share information likely to ridicule, degrade, demean, and promote hostility against Anita Annet Among, the speaker of parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

He is also alleged to have shared malicious information relating to the speaker. In 2012, the Inspector general of police established the Police directorate at parliament to strengthen security and avert potential terror attacks. Initially, the police deployment at Parliament functioned at the level of a police station with no more than 100 officers.

Following the creation of the directorate, the parliamentary commission approved an increase in the number of police officers to over 300. The Observer has learned that the directorate has since been elevated to the status of a police division, now managed by a division police commander (DPC).

According to the Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act, an officer of parliament may arrest any person who commits an offense in his or her presence without a warrant of arrest. The Act also authorizes the arrest of any person within the precincts of Parliament whom the officer reasonably suspects of having committed or being about to commit an offense.

The law stipulates that no prosecution for an offense under this Act shall be initiated without the written sanction of the director of public prosecutions.

POLICE REACTION

In an interview for this story, Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan police, clarified the role and jurisdiction of the police at Parliament.

“The police at parliament are division police and are commanded by a district police commander,” he said. “It doesn’t only handle files or arrest suspects at Parliament. There is no illegality for it to arrest suspects outside parliament as long as the director of public prosecutions (DPP) sanctions the file. It is under the command of the inspector general of police (IGP).”

Owoyesigyire emphasized that, despite being the head of the institution of parliament, the speaker does not control or command the police.

“Cases of computer misuse happen all over the country. There is no conflict of interest because the speaker is involved. Anyone who works at parliament can walk into the police and report their case, have it investigated, and other steps follow,” he stated.

He added that cases arising from the committees are handled by parliament police, regardless of the suspect’s origin.

“If the committee orders the arrest of any person appearing before them, it will definitely be executed.”

MPs SPEAK OUT

Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo expressed his concerns over the recent actions.

“I have seen many powerful people, but this is the first time I am seeing the speaker of parliament causing two people to be detained at Luzira prison because they spoke or did not appreciate something. This is politics,” Ssekikubo remarked.

“If you do not want to be criticized, stay in your house; don’t come to politics. In politics, you tolerate caution, advice, or reprimand. There are lots of ways you can do that. But with this level of intolerance we are seeing, we are not happy.”

He continued, “It is the first time I am seeing it; it is not good. Let us be tolerant. Don’t use power. They are using parliamentary police to arrest people when the scene of the crime was not here (Parliament) for Burora. So, we are coming out to say, why is the country keeping quiet about that? I am increasingly watching the high-handedness the Uganda police are exhibiting when matters pertaining to parliament arise.”Ssekikubo further questioned the necessity of such actions.

“Why do you go ahead and make sure you arrest and detain people in Luzira because they protested? Can you imagine a lady who was holding a poster? We know now that she is at Luzira. We are not happy about that. How about the former deputy RCC, Burora? You succeeded in throwing him out of his office. Isn’t that enough? But if a poor man has to be hounded [up] to Luzira, why?” he asked.

Bukanga North MP, Nathan Byanyima, stated that since the introduction of police at parliament, no MP has ever been arrested or detained there.

“We have immunity as MPs, which is why when parliament convenes at Kololo, the speaker makes a proclamation. Because we have immunity, MPs with cases come so early and hide in parliament till late,” he said.

Tororo Woman MP, Sarah Opendi Achieng, noted that, to the best of her knowledge, parliamentary police were established to guard Parliament and provide security to MPs and staff traveling for meetings and parliamentary work. Employees of the august House can report cases and have them investigated to ensure that justice is served.

“We are shocked that it has now turned into a special police force that conducts arrests outside its jurisdiction. We have learned that some MPs and staff of parliament use it to arrest people in their constituencies. Parliament is in recess; when we return, we shall demand answers to all these questions,” she said.

She noted that the Minister of Internal Affairs condemned the acts of the parliamentary police for working outside their jurisdiction. According to Francis Zaake, the MP for Mityana municipality, the police at parliament have always been used by individuals to target their opponents.

He recalled an incident where the parliamentary police broke into his home and took a car belonging to the Parliament of Uganda and other unrevealed gadgets.

“They work for one person. Even when their work is supposed to stop within the precincts of parliament, they go out of their jurisdiction and conduct arrests and detain critics of individuals at parliament, and they walk away with it,” he said.

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Comments   

0 #1 Marc Mae 2024-07-11 15:13
MPs voted for her so do not complain; In future use pure logic and vote for a humble; normal and intelligent person without a chip on his or her shoulder
MPs you very well made your bed so do not complain of discomfort

I think that Uganda has been cursed
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