The evolution of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) which metamorphosed from the Kayanja The Violent Crime Crack Unit (VCCU) earlier establishment came into being to help curb the high level armed criminals that had taken Kampala and its immediate neighbourhoods by storm. Unfortunately, when such forces come into being, misuse is not uncommon. There are many people who have been badly handled by the RRU and its sister security organs in place before its birth. I remember the photo image of a one business woman who was shot near Kabaka’s Palace and the image was terrible. You would wonder what crime this lady had committed to deserve such brutal murder. It looked necessary to come up with a force that could rapidly come to the rescue of the people. Unfortunately, misuse.
While the Government is commended for having done away with the RRU, it is necessary to go a step further to make sure that whoever is involved in the abuse of another one’s rights compensates him or her. That way, those who assume they are doing Government a service may stop their excesses if they end up responsible for compensating the victims.
We now need assurance from Government that there are no more Safe Houses, such that all suspects are taken to constitutionally gazette places for handling their cases.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
POLICE DISBANDS RAPID RESPONSE UNIT (RRU)
The Police has disbanded the Rapid Response Unit, which carries out operations on hard core criminals.
The announcement was made to the media by the Police spokesperson, Asuman Mugenyi at the Uganda Media Center today.
Mugyenyi explained that with immediate effect, the unit would stop operations. He says the unit had registered success in reducing violent crimes since 2003, when Operation Wembley was carried out.
Mugenyi further revealed that complaints on gross human rights violations was also part of the reason for the disbandment of the unit, saying there have been concerns from suspects, as well as the international community on the manner in which suspects have been treated while in detention.
Mugyenyi now says the unit will be taken over by the special investigations unit, which is under the Criminal Investigations Department of Police, which has been handling transmitter cases.
He says the soldiers who previously worked with the unit will be reinstated in the UPDF while civilians who are not integrated in the regular police force will be paid a severance package.
Mugyenyi says the police will utilize the structures in place to handle violent crimes that come up.
Rapid Response Unit (RRU) Disbanded Over Abuse
Kampala – Ugandan police on Friday disbanded their elite Rapid Response Unit over allegations of serious human rights abuses, a spokesperson said.
Originally set up in 2002 under a different name to deal with violent crimes, the Rapid Response Unit has been accused by rights groups of routinely torturing detainees and carrying out extrajudicial killings.
“Police management has disbanded the (Rapid Response Unit) because you will note that we have registered a series of complaints on the human rights record,” police spokesperson Asuman Mugenyi said.
He said there had also been issues with “professionalism” in the unit as some of the operatives were untrained civilian informers.
In a report in March, Human Rights Watch documented scores of cases of alleged torture and at least six cases of extrajudicial killings and said that the unit’s plainclothes personnel frequently operated “outside the law”.
Despite claims by rights activists that few police operatives have been charged over accusations of abuse, Mugenyi said “very many” officers from the unit had been brought to court and that some victims had received compensation.
He said that the unit was not being reconstituted under another name and that its duties would be taken over by the Field Force Unit and the Criminal Investigation Department.