Police Concerned as Crime Preventers Take to Extortion, Torture of Public

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In short
On 22nd September six crime preventers were arrested and remanded to Kitgum Prison for extortion and harassment. Among those arrested were Richard Onama, David Ocira, Bosco Adwom, Robinson Komakech and Francis Mwaka.

Police in Aswa region has warned crime preventers to stop trying to usurp the force's powers by conducting arrests and harassing members of the public.
 
Aswa region police spokesperson Patrick Jimmy Okema said that the force had begun to receive complaints that crime preventers were going beyond their mandate.
 
Okema says police has received complaints of extortion of money by crime preventers. There have also been cases of harassment and torture. He says they have learned that some crime preventers have gone so far as to fashion uniforms for themselves and act like policemen.
 
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Okema says crime preventers are supposed to act as information agents for the police and leave the crime solving to the professionals.
 
On 22nd September six crime preventers were arrested and remanded to Kitgum Prison for extortion and harassment. Among those arrested were Richard Onama, David Ocira, Bosco Adwom, Robinson Komakech and Francis Mwaka.
 
To date the Uganda Police force has reportedly trained over 20,000 crime preventers throughout the country.
 
Andrew Olara, a crime preventer, says it is possible some of the persons who were trained could have decided to use their newfound knowledge to commit crimes. Olara says during their training, they received instructions on self defence, information gathering and leadership in crisis.
 
The Amuru district Resident District Commissioner James Kidega recently complained that crime preventers had begun to take over police roles because police had fallen back from their duties. Kidega asked that crime preventers be assigned uniforms or some form of identification not to confuse them with police.
 
Okema also admits that some crime preventers do collude with police officers to commit crimes and get away with it.
 

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.