In a surprise announcement, the new Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander has issued new guidelines on the use of tear gas by police officers.
KMP commander Moses Kafeero told Field Force Unit officers that their deployment of tear gas should not amount to torture of civilians.
In a facebook post the KMP reported that; ‘Field Force Unit (FFU) has today been cautioned against maximum usage of tear gas and excessive force while handling public order management operations. Kafeero’s concern emanates from the extreme criticism police has in recent times faced from the public and human rights bodies on extreme use of excessive force while handling public affairs.’
Kafeero said whereas the police have a right to use tear gas in operations, its deployment ‘must never amount to degrading treatment or torture.’
This is a departure from the operational guidelines given to the Police during the leadership of General Kale Kayihura. During Kayihura’s reign as police chief, deployment of tear gas against political protestors, was random, indiscriminate at every provocation. Usage of tear gas was so common that Kayihura was commonly referred to as ‘afande tear gas.’
Kafeero said before tear gas is deployed, the field force unit officers must provide “clear and unambiguous warnings” to the public in advance.
This he said would allow people to vacate the area and hence minimize the impact on those complying to police orders.
He said in deploying teargas the police must also ensure there is an escape route for the public.
Kafeero however said there are exceptional circumstances when extreme force is warranted especially when failure for an officer to act, would lead to loss of their life or that of an innocent third party.