Ugandan President orders release of ‘idle, disorderly’ suspect

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the release of all suspects arrested for “idle and disorderly” behavior under colonial-era legislation.

Police chief Martin Okoth Ochola has written to regional police commanders, instructing them to comply with the president’s directive.

In a report in 2016, a non-governmental organisation, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum HRAPF, said the arrests took place under “vagrancy laws” introduced during British colonial rule and mostly targeted poor people who had no permanent home or employment.

A study showed that 958 arrests had been made between 2011 and 2015 at five police stations sampled, it added.

The president also ordered that no person be arrested under the law in future, report says.

This is the third time that President Museveni has made the order, the last one being in his State of the Nation address in 2017.

Mr Museveni’s previously promised to repeal legislation which criminalised “idle and disorderly’ behavior, but the promise remains unfulfilled.

Mr Ochola said the president has also ordered the release of hawkers imprisoned in the capital, Kampala, for failing to pay fines of one million shillings $272, £221 after being caught selling goods illegally on pavements, report says.

Dominica Nwabufo