Human Rights Watch has said that The Ugandan Police Force should draw up guidelines on the use of teargas.
In a report titled; “Uganda: End Police Obstruction of Gatherings” released on Sunday 18th and uploaded on the organisation website, Human Rights Watch noted that police are using teargas, rubber bullets, and brutality to obstruct political meetings and rallies.
“The Ugandan Police Force should draw up guidelines on the use of teargas, Human Rights Watch said.
Adding; “The guidelines should be unambiguous that teargas may not be used simply because police deem a gathering unlawful, including when police believe organizers have failed to comply with the Public Order Management Act’s requirements regarding police notification or permission.”
The organisation noted that as a riot-control method, teargas should be used only when necessary as a proportionate response to quell violence.
“It should not be used in a confined space, and canisters should not be fired directly at any individual, and never at close range,” the organisation suggested.
Referring to two recent examples of the abusive and unlawful response to opposition gatherings, on September 9 and 10, 2015, the organisation noted that police in the towns of Soroti and Jinja, eastern Uganda, fired teargas to disperse people who had gathered to hear opposition candidate Amama Mbabazi, even though there had been no disorder or violence.
“In some instances, police fired teargas canisters directly at individuals, turning the canisters into projectiles that caused injury, in addition to the harmful effects of teargas on the skin, eyes, and breathing.
In Jinja, police lobbed teargas canisters into the grounds of a primary school, harming children.”
Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch was quoted in the report saying; “Ugandans have the right to gather and hear information, never more so than when an election is coming up,”
He added; “The reckless use of teargas is injuring people and jeopardizing a free and fair democratic atmosphere for campaigns.”