A city lawyer has petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the Police practice of parading suspects in public before being arraigned in court.
Luyimbazi Nalukoola of M/S Mayanja, Nakibuule and Company Advocates filed the petition against the Attorney General (AG), arguing that parading suspects before journalists was inconsistent with Article 28 of the Constitution and violates the presumption of innocence.
“The tradition of the Uganda Police Force whereby suspected armed robbers, kidnappers and other alleged criminals are paraded in public or before the press prior to charging them in court is against the Constitution,” he contends.
Nalukoola also contends that no amount of crime, including terrorism, warrants police to parade suspects before the media since Article 28 of the Constitution presumes every man innocent till proven guilty or they plead so.
“In spite of presumption of innocence, which protects suspects by virtue of Article 28 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act the law enforcement agencies in Uganda have continued to expose suspects to media trial before arraigning them in court,” Nalukoola said.
He avers that after arresting the suspects, the officers in charge call press conferences during which they inform journalists how they caught/arrested the suspects and pass verdicts against them.
He further contends that journalists who honor an invitation by police to cover a public parade of suspected criminal are just as complicit as the police in perpetrating “overzealous, irresponsible and illegal parade of suspects.”
Nalukoola affirms that such practices have denied suspects a right to fair hearing and infringes on their dignity. He added that public parade of suspects is an inhuman act meant to oppress the people.
Nalukoola avers that that by parading suspects before the media, the Police spoil the fundamental ingredients of suspect identification by the witness in the trial.
“Parading suspects before journalists and other members of the public affects the procedure of identifying suspects by the victims,” he added.
He also contends that the practice of forcing suspects to remove their shirts, belts, shoes is inhuman, degrading and in contraventions of provisions of Article 24 of the constitution.
Nalukoola is therefore seeking court declaration that the practices/ acts are in contravention of Article 28 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 (as amended).