On crime, politics and “securitisation” of the state

In Uganda, the ‘security industry’ is made of the Uganda Police Force (Police), the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), the International security Organisation (ISO), the External Security Organisation (ESO).
The primary function of the police is to keep law and order. The civil security agencies (ISO and ESO) are responsible for the collection of intelligence that frontline actors like the Police, UPDF (and diplomats) would leverage into operational engagements.
Whereas other civil security agencies may have better capabilities, the police remains the principal arresting agency of the state (please note that arrest is a purely administrative function with laid down procedures).

Even with their obsession with military jargon and verbiage, the police deals with ‘information’ while security agencies and the military deal with ‘intelligence’. The police’s mode of information sourcing, collection and use is different from that of the security agencies.
Whereas the principal end user of the ‘information’ collected by the police is the courts of law. And because courts don’t admit evidence based on information collected through torture, police is obliged to source dust-free information.
Please note that in normal circumstances, intelligence collected by security agencies is more likely to land on a politician or a diplomat’s desk for use to leverage national interests during state to state engagement.

But due to the skewed structural organisation of power in Uganda, the entire justice, law and order sector has also been securitised. I was scandalised to hear that even the traditionally civil Uganda Prison Service has also been incorporated in the Security Industry.
Mbu the prisons service also has an Intelligence desk or department or such other We are soon to hear that the Uganda Wildlife Authority has also set up an Intelligence department. What drives this obsession with the word ‘intelligence’ or military jargon?

The police used to have Special Branch as the department responsible for security (more like the current ISO and ESO). The police then created the Crime Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID) thereby rolling the former Crime Investigations Department (CID) and former Special Branch (SB) into one super department.
Is it any wonder that sometimes our dear friends at CIID don’t differentiate between crime and insecurity (at a technical level). Which brings us the question: what is the difference between crime and security (insecurity)?

Crime is the act of undermining an individual’s life and resources while insecurity is the act or situation of undermining state authority or render it ineffective or weak. Crime, as an act of insecurity, is therefore, the aggregate failure of the state to fight or control crime.
That’s why there is a need to differentiate the two at a technical level. For insecurity to occur, there must be a deliberate objective of undermining the integrity of the state (or failure of the state to fight crime).
That’s why the police was looking for a link (factual and motive) between the killing of senior State Attorney Joan Kagezi and the recent killing of Muslim clerics. If the objective of the killings was to make the state look ineffective and weak, then it becomes a security matter.

It is very difficult to fight or prevent crime to zero rate but the most important thing is what the responsible government agencies do after a crime has happened. However, all that depends on the structural organisation of power in the country.
We have securitised almost everything. Even simple administrative functions of the state like telephone SIM Card registration, National ID registration, simple community policing, crime prevention, penitentiary services like prisons, etc, have been securitised.
If the police did just about 30 per cent of their law-and-order work diligently and ISO and ESO diligently did 30 per cent of detecting security challenges, we could cut crime and insecurity challenges to more than 50 per cent.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East Africa Flagpost.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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