Tuesday, May 28News That Matters

Police to continue using penal laws in the enforcement of unlawful assemblies.

As you are all aware, the constitutional court, nullified sections 5(b), 10 (3) and 4 of the Public Order Management Act, after they were established to be inconsistent with Article 29 of the 1995 Constitution. Although these sections were nullified, we would like to inform, the public that there are other existing laws under the Penal Code Act, that do regulate unlawful Assemblies, riots and other offences against public tranquility. In addition, section 5 of the Public Order Management Act, which, basically provides for organisers of a public meeting to notify police, 3 days before the date of the meeting is to convene, is still in existence. Therefore, all organsiers of assemblies and processions, should know that although its their fundamental right to peacefully assembly, they also have a duty to inform the police about the date and time of their public meetings, details of the organisers, location and consent of the venue owner, the number of persons expected, purpose and any other basic information, justified to ensure the smooth conduct of the public meeting.
The organisers also have a duty to adhere to the criterial of holding public meetings ie have a traffic assembly plan, provide sufficient stewards proportionate to the number of participants in the public meeting with clearly name tags, coordinate and cooperate with the police to maintain peace and order. For instance Section 65 of the Penal Code Act (PCA) gives the definition of an unlawful assembly and riot
(1) When three of more persons assemble with intent to carry out some common purpose, conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighborhood reasonably to fear that the persons so assembled, will commit a breach of the peace or will by such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion provide other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are an unlawful assembly. The punishment for unlawful assembly is a misdemeanor and liable for imprisonment for one year.
(2) It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful if, being assembled, they conduct themselves with a common purpose in the manner described in subsection (4).
(3) When an unlawful assembly has begun to execute the purpose for which it assembled by a breach of peace and to the terror of the public, the assembly is called a riot, and the persons. The punishment for riot is a misdemeanor.
Section 68 of the Penal Code Act (PCA) provides for a proclamation for rioters to disperse, whereby any magistrate or, in his or her absence, any police officer of or above the rank of Inspector, or any commissioned officer in the armed forces of Uganda, in whose view 12 or more persons are riotously assembled, or who apprehends that a riot is about to be committed by 12 or more persons assembled within his or her view, may make or cause to be made a proclamation in the Presidents name, in such forms as he or she thinks fit, commanding the rioters or persons so assembled to disperse peacefully.

In addition, any person who forcefully prevents or obstructs any person making a proclamation under section 68, of the Penal Code Act commits a felony under section 71, and is liable to imprisonment for 10 years; and if the making of the proclamation is so prevented, every person who knowing that it has been so prevented takes or continues to take part in the riot or assembly is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
It’s also important to note that, section 70 of the Penal Code Act, sanction rioting after proclamation, whereby if a proclamation is made commanding the persons engaged in a riot or assembled with the purpose of committing a riot to disperse, every person who, at or after the expiration of a reasonable time from the making of the proclamation, takes or continues to take part in the riot or assembly, commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
Section 69 of the Penal Code Act, provides for the dispersal of rioters where, if upon the expiration of a reasonable time after the proclamation is made or after the making of the proclamation has been prevented by force, 12 or more persons continue to make the proclamation, or any police officer or any other person acting in aid of that person or police officer, may do all things necessary for dispersing the persons so continuing assembled or for apprehending them or any of them, and if any person makes resistance, may use all such force as is reasonably necessary for overcoming such resistance and shall not be liable in any criminal or civil proceeding for having by the use of such force caused harm or death to any person.

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