The Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET) and other stakeholders have intensified calls to the Parliament of Uganda to disband the Local Defence Units (LDUs).
LASPNET, which covers 80 districts in Uganda, based its call on recent incidents especially involving brutality of the security force especially during the implementation of the presidential directives aimed at curbing COVID-19.
“The creation of LDU was aimed at enhancing the existing foundation, security arrangement in the country to ensure that people and their property are secured at grass root levels and helping in fighting urban crimes. However, areas deployed with LDUs have continuously raised complaints about their conduct that is brutal and extreme as they execute their duties.” A source at LASPNET disclosed.
The general public and the Army seem to have different perspectives about LDU which is absurd. As the public suffers brutality from this force, the Army on the other hand gives big credit to LDU for doing incredible work in eliminating crime.
In an interview with UPDF spokesperson, Maj Yusuf Bilal Katamba on Wednesday, he agreed that LDUs make mistakes as they carry on their duties but he said those are just “Operational Mistakes”.
On Wednesday 16th July, LASPNET asked Parliament to engage the Ministry of Internal affairs and disband the Local Defence Units. They think the reverse force has turned out to be a danger to the Right to Life as provided for under Article 22 (1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, more so the security of persons and their property.
In recent days, there have been loads of complaints against the LDUs and their mode of operation while implementing ‘directives’.
Last week, the Mityana District LC V Chairperson Joseph Luzige was assaulted by LDU persons after he confronted them for beating a woman who was riding on a motorcycle beyond curfew time. Witnesses at the scene testify that he was roughed by the LDUs.
In Nagili Parish, Pader District, a police officer accompanied by a member of the LDU shot at 3 people killing a one Odong Bosco on sight and where as the LDU was arrested the police officer was merely transferred to another location.
There is also that case of the Makerere University student Emmanuel Tegu who was allegedly beaten by the LDUs to death inside the university, according to family members’ account of the late’s dying declaration.
The lawyers, having that as a background, expect Parliament to come up with a strong resolution of Disbanding the LDUs.
“LDU should be within the community and known by the community. LDU is supposed to be guarding people not killing them.” Sylvia Mukasa Namubiru, the LASPNET Executive Director said.
UPDF Spokesperson (First Division) Maj Yusuf Bilal Katamba, in an interview, said the reason they can’t be disbanded is to control the influx of the crime rate they have minimised – much as they have shortcomings.
“The crime is there but at a very low rate, therefore we cannot remove the LDUs otherwise there will be insurgence of these criminals whom they have fought.” He said.
He added that it’s not good to incriminate the force yet it has done incredible work. He adds that, in the process of implementing and fighting crime, they have committed mistakes and there’s a system that puts them in line.
The Big question however is, if there’s a system that puts these “mistakes” in line, why do they increase rather than decrease? More still, people have lost lives due to LDU extremism, is it fair to call that just an Operational Mistake?