The Observer Editorial | Rethink ‘election crime preventers

Posted January 29, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in The Roadmap to 2016 ~ 2,620 views


Several organisations have called for the removal of crime preventers from the 2016 elections process, largely because they cannot be trusted to act in a fair and non-partisan manner.

Besides the political opposition, the latest call came last week from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Network Uganda, Chapter Four Uganda, and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.


While community policing has been helpful in many countries, in our context, the use of crime preventers in elections is problematic.

We strongly urge the government to rethink, if only to protect the credibility of the 2016 elections.

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda is obviously well-respected across the partisan divide, but his government’s position is like saying that a World Cup-qualifying match between Ghana and Nigeria should be officiated by a Nigerian referee, while insisting that the referee must not make biased calls against Ghanaians.

Uganda’s recently-recruited, hastily- trained and politically-sensitised crime preventers cannot escape the suspicion that they will act in favour of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement.

Only recently, President Museveni said that although crime preventers were not to be paid salaries, they would be rewarded for their work by being considered for government programmes such as Operation Wealth Creation.

Many crime preventers have been seen dressed in colours of the ruling party. Clearly, the link between crime preventers and the NRM is overtly and covertly significant.

Indeed, as The Observer reported in October, many see the crime preventers as an NRM strategy to mobilise hundreds of thousands of often-jobless or clearly underemployed people and create a symbiotic relationship between them and the ruling party.

How then can such people be part of the team ‘officiating’ in the competition that is the 2016 elections?

Not many people have faith that the crime preventers are there to genuinely prevent crime and that they will not be partisan.

One organization classified crime preventers alongside vote-guarding militia being mooted by various political groups. That may look like it is stretching it, but that is what it seems.

And fairness of the electoral process cannot be simply a declaration. It must also be seen to be.

Source — Last week’s Observer Editorial

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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