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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The misogyny of Uganda’s Police force: Ethics minister, US decry Ingrid brutal arrest



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Ethics minister, US decry Ingrid arrest

“We call upon the US and Britain, the two countries most responsible for sustaining the Ugandan regime, to issue a clear statement denouncing the sexual assault against an activist and leader. We call upon all members of Parliamenr , regardless of their political affiliations, to join us in condemning this assault,” the statement further read.

By John Njoroge 

Posted  Tuesday, April 24  2012 at  00:00

Ethics and Integrity State Minister Simon Lokodo yesterday joined the American government in condemning the brutal manner in which opposition Forum for Democratic Change Women’s League leader, Ingrid Turinawe, was arrested last Friday. “It was very humiliating for her (Ms Turinawe) and for the country. That officer must be brought to book,” Rev. Fr. Lokodo said.

He, however, took a dim view of women activists who yesterday morning marched onto Kampala’s Central Police Station (CPS) half naked in protest, saying they could have been more dignified while calling for action.

Rights abuse

A press statement issued by the public affairs officer at the US embassy, Mr Dan Travis, said: “We condemn any excessive use of force by police or protestors. We urge the Ugandan government to respect citizen right to assemble freely and encourage Uganda to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by security services and to hold perpetrators accountable.

We also ask opposition and civil society activists to ensure that their activities remain peaceful and within the confines of the law.”

Six women activists, including Ms Happy Nasasira, Ms Lillian Nangobi, Ms Barbara Alimadi, Ms Salima Nsibambi and two others, were temporarily detained at CPS.

Rev. Fr. Lokodo said the women activists, who were outraged at the violent groping of Ms Turinawe’s breast by the police, wanted to “perpetuate violence”. “It is unacceptable for mature people to behave in an undignified manner. Why add insult to injury?” he said.

Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut could not say if there was an official response from the government, which has in the past taken pride in its efforts to further the respect of women’s rights. “I condemn any molestation of any woman. If you are arresting a woman, it must be done by a female officer. I understand the officer involved has been suspended,” she said last night.

By last evening Ms Turinawe was undergoing treatment at her home.
“I am still under medication. I pray I heal quickly and get back onto the streets,” Ms Turinawe told this newspaper.

Earlier in the day, the women activists held a press conference at Open House on Buganda Road before marching to CPS. They demanded the resignation of Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the arrest of the officer who assaulted Ms Turinawe and called for a worldwide condemnation of the attack. “Any country that does not respect its women is a country that has descended into anarchy,” they said in a statement.

“We call upon the US and Britain, the two countries most responsible for sustaining the Ugandan regime, to issue a clear statement denouncing the sexual assault against an activist and leader. We call upon all members of Parliamenr , regardless of their political affiliations, to join us in condemning this assault,” the statement further read.

At CPS, the police ordered the women to leave the station when they stripped. A scuffle ensued with police deploying pepper spray to disperse a crowd that was steadily gathering.

Journalists covering the demonstration were also indiscriminately targeted with pepper spray, resulting in Radio Simba’s Joshua Mutale sustaining an eye injury.

Uganda Ingrid Turinawe 'sexual abuse' protesters strip
23 April 2012Last updated at 14:25 GMT
A group of women have stripped to their bras in protest at the alleged sexual assault by Ugandan police of a high-profile female opposition politician.
Footage shows an officer squeezing the breast of Ingrid Turinawe of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) during her arrest ahead of a rally last week.
Deputy police chief Andrew Kaweesa has apologised, saying the incident will be investigated.
Uganda's opposition says police regularly harass them during protests.
Since President Yoweri Museveni's controversial 2011 re-election, there has been a wave of opposition demonstrations - many of which have ended in violence and arrests.

“Start Quote

How would you feel if we squeezed your balls?”
Protesters' placard
But correspondents say Ugandans are outraged by the arrest on Friday of Ms Turinawe, who is the head of the Women's League of the FDC led by Kizza Besigye.
Ugandan television footage clearly shows that, as several officers tried to pull her out of her vehicle, another grabbed and squeezed her breast - and she is heard shouting out in pain.
The BBC's Siraj Kalyango in the capital, Kampala, says a group of about 15 women marched through the town to the main police station waving placards, including one that read "How would you feel if we squeezed your balls?"
Six protesters were arrested after they refused to put their tops back on - but they were released two hours later without charge.
"We wanted to ask the police if they are there to do their jobs or there to pinch breasts," event organiser Barbara Allimadi told the AFP news agency.

Police opens investigations into Turinawe arrest

Publish Date: Apr 24, 2012

By Moses Walubiri
Police has sanctioned an internal investigation of its officers who were involved in FDC’s Ingrid Turinawe's arrest last Friday over alleged sexual assault.
The leader of the women's league in FDC allegedly had her breasts “pinched and fondled”  by police officers who apprehended her on her way to an opposition rally at Nansana.
"We normally have our own footages of operations like the one involving Ingrid last week. An investigation has already been sanctioned and it will be concluded very soon.
“Any officer deemed to have committed errors will face punitive measures," Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Ibin Ssenkumbi told New Vision online on Monday.
This development has come on the backdrop of a petition by civil society leaders to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga over what they have deemed a “systematic attempt by the State to use sexual assault as a political weapon."
In their plea, civil society leaders under their umbrella, Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform, want Parliament to challenge all manifest acts of brutality by men and women in uniform and to use Ingrid's arrest as a catalyst to "speed up the enactment of the Anti-Torture Bill, review the public order management Bill" and all other Bills attendant to prevention of abuse of human rights.
"We met the Speaker this morning over the increasing incidents of police brutality and she has promised that Parliament will confer over it," Bishop Dr.Zac Niringiye told journalists at Makerere University on Monday.
Fida's Irene Ovonji Odida and Crispy Kaheru of the Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy demanded that the police officer who fondled Ingrid's breasts during her arrest be held personally responsible for an act they dubbed "criminal."
"I am appalled that a government that has over the years prided itself in encouraging women to participate in politics can condone sexual assault against women leaders.
“Even if someone is in breach of the law, lifting her legs, pinching and fondling her breasts has nothing to do with arresting such a person. It amounts to sexual assault and its criminal," Ovonji said.
The civil society leaders demanded that the police officer in question be identified, tried and dismissed from service.
They also appealed to Police to show restraint in dealing with citizens involved in lawful protests and also demanded that police offers an unreserved apology "for the humiliating and shameful display of sexual assault and molestation of a woman before the nation."
Before the opposition pressure group, A4C was banned by the Attorney General early this month, Ingrid had always been locked in confrontations with police over organizing protest rallies.