STATEMENT OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE ON THE INCIDENT OF THE ARREST OF INGRID TURINAWE ON 20TH APRIL 2012 in NANSANA TOWN.
Let me begin by welcoming you all to this press briefing intended to update the country on the investigation by the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of the Uganda Police, (supported by the Special Investigations Unit) into the incident of arrest of Ingrid Turinawe in Nansana town, and, in particular, the allegations against the Uganda Police in relation to that incident.
The PSU have completed the investigation, and have presented to me their report which contains their findings and recommendations. At this juncture, let me ask the lead investigator, Commissioner Sam Kyomukama with his team to give you highlights of their investigation.
Uganda Police Force, and, I personally, have faced criticism for the manner in which it responded to this incident. I was, personally, accused of turning a blind eye to improper behavior by a police officer, of refusing to condemn the offending act, and of seeking to minimize the serious nature of the assault on Ingrid Turinawe and the offence to her dignity.
In fact, soon after the incident, we issued a general statement on the incdent, and, since we did not have all the facts, announced that we had set up an investigation. To do more, as some quarters demanded of me, especially to rush to a conclusion basing on one sided and distorted and selective images on NTV, (including the lie that it was a male police officer who violated the privacy of Ingrid Turinawe) would have been presumptuous, improper, and, as it has turned out, unwise,. Indeed, to do so would have been prejudicial to the investigation, and would have done injustice to all the actors involved, as well as to the truth. We refused to be stampeded into joining the chorus of condemnations, and let the joint team of the PSU and SIU, quietly, professionally carry out their task of investigating the incident. Now that we have the facts, I can authoritative and substantively comment.
First and foremost, on behalf of the Uganda Police, as well as on my own behalf, I regret, and apologise for, the action of one of my police officers, Woman Police Constable (W/PC) Irene Alinda, for improperly and unprofessionally handling Ingrid Turinawe. Although the officer is, clearly, remorseful, and is haunted by what she did, she still acted unprofessionally, and out of tune with the standards of the Uganda Police in carrying out arrests or using force. Her action was unnecessary, improper, and unacceptable, and she must be held to ccount. For that we are deeply sorry to Ingrid Turiname, her family, her friends, and indeed, all the womenfolk, and the country at large. This apology is unequivocal, unqualified and sincere. We shall, formally, and in writing, express the same to Ingrid Turinawe, directly, and personally.
This type of behavior has no place in Uganda Police Force. Indeed, notwithstanding some instances of unprofessional misconduct by some officers, as a Force we are not brutal as some propagandists want the country and the world to believe. We have a code of conduct which is part of the Police Act, and which we enforce vigorously, and rigorously. That is why we have the PSU, “the Policeman of the Police”. We emphasize people friendly methods of policing, in particular community policing (building community/police partnerships), as well as observance of human rights. In training, and in our orders, police officers are prepared to ensure that in going about their work, they should be intimate with the people, and respect the human rights of suspects. We emphasize internationally established human rights – compliant principles on use of force, namely, lawfulness, necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination, and accountability.
Secondly, in line with the recommendations of the investigation team, I have ordered that W/PC Alinda Irene be tried before the Police Headquarters Disciplinary Court on charges of Discreditable Conduct and of Behaving in a Cruel, Disgraceful and Indecent Manner, disciplinary offences established under the Police Act (Code of Conduct).
Thirdly, having said the above, however, I wish to make some comments on the incident which led to the confrontation between Ingrid Turinawe and the Police, indeed, which is what led to the incident under investigation.
Some people, political leaders included, seem to consider that they are not obliged to follow lawful instructions of a police officer. In fact, they act and behave as if they are above the law, and that is where problems begin.
In fact, from the findings, on this occasion, Ms Ingrid Turinawe’s driver obeyed the instructions of the Police , and refused Ingrid’s insistence that he ignores the Police. In fact, she took over the wheel of the vehicle precisely because her driver refused to defy the Police. Had she cooperated with the Police, as other political leaders did during the same occasion, the question of her arrest and the subsequent incident in question would not have arisen. Indeed, ngrid Turinawe defied the direction of a police officer who was managing traffic. Not only did she refuse to follow his instructions, she actually continued to drive her vehicle into him. (This is very clear on video footage which by the way NTV conveniently left out.) As my traffic officers are constantly saying, a motor vehicle can be a lethal weapon. Here Ms Turinawe drove into one of my officers repeatedly. In fact, this was a serious assault and it was therefore entirely appropriate that she be arrested.
Again, contrary to the impression created by the deliberately distorted and manipulated images of the NTV, the commander in charge, on the scene, ordered four female officers to make up the arrest team and despite being correctly informed that she was being placed under arrest, Ms Turinawe again defied police and resisted to leave the vehicle. Indeed she struggled with them, grabbing the steering wheel and hitting, and biting the officers.
Therefore, while acknowledging that W/PC Alinda Irene acted unprofessionally, we must not lose sight of the genesis and background to the incident, especially the circumstances surrounding the incident, and who had primary responsibility for its occurrence. Ingrid Turinawe sought to attend an illegal assembly, organized by an Unlawful Society. When this assembly failed to take place she refused to comply with the lawful instructions of a police officer performing traffic management duties. She used a motor vehicle to physically strike a police officer repeatedly. When informed that she was to be detained she resisted arrest. She hit and bit police officers (This is all clear on the video footage.)
These are plain facts. Indeed, while they, absolutely, do not excuse the misconduct of one police officer, these facts are none the less relevant and material. I find it interesting to observe that not one newspaper, TV or radio programme or opposition leader (who were so quick to demand Uganda Police Force take action against the officer who assaulted Ms Turinawe), have, also, called for her to face charges of assault on police officers, or disciplinary action as a political leader. While we hold the Police to high moral, and professional standards, which we should, at the same time, should we not expect our political leaders to hold themselves to equally, or even higher standards?! Ms Turinawe is an aspiring law-maker! I respectfully suggest that she should desist in being a law-breaker.
Police has never denied anyone, (including Ingrid Turinawe) to exercise their rights and freedoms. Indeed, we facilitate , as we should, people to exercise their freedoms of speech and assembly, while, at the same time, ensuring safety and security of others and the country. All we demand, as we should, is that such exercise of rights and freedoms is within the Constitution and the law. In fact, it is when we make these demands , as we should, that we clash with individuals, and groups who do not respect the Constitutional mandate of the Uganda Police.
Finally, I wish to assure the country that the Uganda Police Force aspires to maintaining the very highest professional, ethical and behavioral standards, and to respect, uphold rights of individuals and groups. Indeed, we have demonstrated this over and over in spite of propagandists who give the contrary impression,. We have and continue to protect and serve all in Uganda, including, as we should, those who criticize us, insult us , defy us and assault us. Am aware that police officers, in the course of carrying out our work of protecting life and property, ensuring law and order, and preventing and detecting crime, we are forced to deal with people who do not respect the law. However, I expect police officers because of their training to exercise professional restraint and to act in with our standard operationg procedures in managing situations. On April 20th April 2012, at Nansana, one officer failed to meet the required standards, and, consequently, she will be dealt with in the appropriate way – through a trial by a Police Disciplinary Court.
I thank you for listening.
Lt Gen Kale Kayihura
Inspector General of Police