Ugandan legislator assaults a woman in police custody: who will check mob justice?

Today’s New Vision front page story; Legislator slaps beggar over child abuse raises many questions. The woman legislator from Kasese  Winifred Kiiza had been to the Police station for a totally different case of attempted conning if i may call it that.

A Ugandan female legislator slaps a suspect in police custody. A New Vision photo

Then a long the way she took time to take the law into her own hands at a place where suspects are supposed to be in safe custody, to slap one Lukiyo Agino, a 23-year-old Karimojong girl, who was had been arrested over child abuse.

The story goes Lukiyo was fronting a malnourished child from her friend to people on the streets trying to get money. Lukiyo’s child abuse story is not too intriguing. The problem of Karamoja is a well documented one. It’s one place with a harsh climate that relies on food aid throughout the year. Government has almost kept alive the long held notion of we shall not wait for Karamoja to develop by not helping it to develop even when the First lady is the minister in charge of that region. Most of what we see about Karamoja is about guns and disarmament.

It’s women who suffer most in that part of the country where one has to walk miles to access water.  This is a place with about one hospital for about 10,000 people and many have run away to the streets of kampala with their children. While Lukiyo’s alleged act of child abuse is inexcusable, the source of such cases is not these poor women on the streets. And you would expect a legislator to be fully cautious before putting her judgment on such  women.

Kiiza’s behavior is only a glimpse into the mob justice culture in Uganda. A person elected to represent a district is the same person to commit crimes right at police station.

The story goes on to say the woman had smiled when the MP asked her if she new the pains of childbirth. What a question to a  woman from who probably has never stepped in a school. And even if the question was in Luganda i doubt she has good understanding language BUT above all who’s Kiiza at the Police station?

The most unethical of all acts in this story is journalists geering and asking the MP to give more beating to the woman saying “Mwongere”

This is shameful but it shows how much Ugandans are into mob justice. Even those who are supposed to watch it are involved in it. The story ends with a no comment from a Police officer declining to state if the legislator would face any charges. Of course people like Kiiza understand the workings of our police force. They too practice such violence on suspects so how can they rescue one from a politician who has a district they represent.

This harassment of a suspect by a legislator right before the eyes of the police tells a much bigger story about justice in Uganda.  Kiiza must be brought to book for use of violence and if our parliament is worth its name should take such a case seriously. Torture and harrasment are not part of a job of a legislator and If Kayihura still insists that the force doesn’t brutalise civilians he must answer why a suspect would be beaten up at a police station and no action taken.