The soldiers deployed in the city will only leave once the staffing gap in the Police force is filled, URN reports. The soldiers were deployed to reinforced police following a meeting between the army and police leadership at the Police headquarters in Naguru in September this year.
The meeting resolved that the soldiers be deployed in places with limited police presence. The soldiers are deployed at police stations and work under the territorial police command structures. The soldiers will remain in the city until the 24,000 local defense unit personnel currently undergoing training are deployed.
Section 209(1) (b) of the Constitution mandates the army to cooperate with civilian Authority in cases of emergency and natural disasters. Emilian Kayima, the Uganda Police Spokesperson, says the soldiers are currently involved in joint operations with the police force.
He cites section 212(1)(a) of the constitution, which mandates the Uganda Police Force to cooperate with civilian authority and other security organs established under the Constitution. The soldiers are currently involved in patrol duties and special operations, which started shortly after the Arua incident in August 2018 where opposition politicians were arrested and charged with treason.
While some soldiers were withdrawn in September 2018, a partnership was formed between UPDF and police to maintain some at police stations. A Divisional police commanders in Kampala Metropolitan area told URN on condition of anonymity that the biggest challenge he has faced with the soldier is brutality and assault of suspects.
“Most of the suspects they bring during patrol or operations are severely beaten and have injuries. Sometimes we are forced to release them to go for medication,” the officer said. Kayima confirms that there have been allegations of assault of suspects but none has made a formal complaint.
But this is not the only complaint against the soldiers. In the outskirts of the city center every night hundreds of people are arrested. Some from their places of work, others as they walk home and others found in groups on the road side.
Our reporter saw ten 10 youths in Ggaba rounded up by a team of 12 soldiers led by a police officer on patrol on November 29th, 2018. Kayima says for every arrest there must be a charge and the arresting officer must record a statement.