The territorial police of the East Aswa river region have been notified by the letter dated 29th September 2023 from the Pajule town council urban chairperson on the arrest of 38 people over unclear circumstances addressed to the regional commander.
However, the office of the Pader district resident commissioner has on 30th of September 2023 released a statement indicating that only 18 people have been arrested during the ‘Aguu’ crackdown termed as “Fagia Uchapu” which was initiated on 22nd of September 2023.
Mr. Brilliant Tito Okello, the Pajule town council urban chairperson in his letter demanded that the RDC Pader, who also doubled as the Chairperson District Security Committee should give explanations on the security situation in Pader district about which kind of operation is taking place in the urban areas of Pajule and Pader Town Councils which is more of Modern Curfew whereby whoever is found moving at night is arrested by a team of Joint Security Team.
“A total of 38 people has so far been taken to remand in Kineni Central Government Prisons and among them are two P.7 and two S.4 candidates have become victims,” reads part of the letter. He alleged that the operation is marred with a lot of harassment, extortion of money from those who have been arrested, and Curtailment of human rights in many ways while quoting Article 221 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Article 221, states that, “it shall be the duty of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces and other armed forces established in Uganda, the Uganda Police Force and any other force, the Uganda Prisons Services, all Intelligence Services and the National Security Council to observe and respect human rights and freedoms in the performance of their functions.”
Mr. Okello further explained that the security should only arrest people who have suspicious characters in them or have suspected stolen items, other than effecting indiscriminate arrest on whoever is met at night. According to him, one has to pay money for his or her fundamental right of freedom of movement as is the case currently in Pader District.
Local leaders have so far called for their involvement as it is paramount either in the exercise, screening of suspected criminals, or even more updating them on any resolution made from above.
Meanwhile, Mr Justine Ocen, the Pader district vice chairperson acknowledged the public outcry on the alleged brutalities saying they discussed with the security about the allegations during their operation. “These concerns are emerging due to lack of coordination between operation teams and the local leaders on how these wrong elements can be identified and arrested,” Ocen explained.
He further concurred with locals accusing some officers among the operation teams whose methods of work are questionable thereby causing hazards which if identified should be reported and dealt with according to law.
However, SP Tukundane Abraham, the Pader district police commander refuted the allegation of torture, and extortion, among others from the locals challenging the community to produce evidence and lodge a formal complaint at the Pader central police station for close follow-up.