East Africa: Uganda Police Should Not Be Like Kenya’s

a horrific video went viral on social media, showing Kenyan police at their most brutal.

Although this is a Kenyan matter, it is difficult for us in Uganda not to get concerned, seeing as we are together in the East African Community, with all the potential for ripple effects in these globalized media times.

The video features a confrontation between Kenyan riot police and demonstrators demanding electoral reforms ahead of next year's general elections.

Successive uniformed police officers are seen chasing and then hitting and kicking a demonstrator who, outpaced, lies prostrate on the ground. One policeman kicks so hard and so often his foot appears to hurt. By this time, the kicked man is probably so hurt he can no longer afford a whimper.

The social media reaction to the video has been one of outrage.

Many have condemned the policemen for savagely hitting the protester as if trying to exorcise some demon. Some Ugandans, with obviously uncharitable opinion of our own police force, have been forced to compare General Kayihura's men and women with angels.

Obviously Ugandan police, especially in recent years, has gained notoriety for brutalizing demonstrators, opposition politicians, journalists, and even their own wives. Our view is that in such situations, the police anywhere in the world is doing a difficult job.

But they have to behave professionally and be firmly guided by their professional standards. Using reasonable force to subdue demonstrators is not the same as revelling in violence like the policemen in the Kenyan video appear to be doing.

Kenyan police authorities need to demand professionalism from their officers and reprimand offenders. If the East African Community is to be a federation of people - rather than merely leaders - of this region, President Kenyatta needs to listen to the people of East Africa on this. And East Africans do not like the video one byte.

Uganda's police force, where we are fighting brutal tendencies, could do without such terrible role models. There are two ways this violence can impact on our force, but only one option is available: Ugandan police should look at this and resolve to be positively, professionally different.

Source: The Observer