Stop rouge, vagabond arrests

The Uganda Police has issued an order immediately barring the arrest of suspects involved in Rouge and Vagabond offences, following a court ruling.

On Friday last week five Constitutional Court Justices unanimously ruled that sections 168 (1) c and d of the penal code act are thrown out. The sections permitted police to arrest a person on suspicion of committing a crime without substantial evidence.

The sections state that every suspected person or reputed thief who has no visible means of subsistence and cannot give a good account of himself or herself and is found wandering on any road or highway or in any public place for an illegal or disorderly purpose shall be deemed to be a rogue and vagabond.

The section adds that such a person commits a misdemeanor and is liable for the first offense to imprisonment for six months, and for every subsequent offense to imprisonment for one year.

The justices led by Frederick Egonda -Ntende including; Elizabeth Musoke, Christopher Madrama, Monica Mugenyi, and Christopher Gashirabake agreed with the petitioner that the sections are vague and infringe on peoples’ rights to free movement and presumption of innocence.

Stop rouge, vagabond arrests

The petitioners from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum stated that  both sections failed to define the prohibited conduct and therefore violated constitutional provisions.

Now, the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola has directed all police officers with immediate effect to stop arrests on petty offence of Rogues and vagabonds.

In a statement read by police spokesperson Fred Enanga, all police officers have been tasked to fully comply with the ruling, and any police officer, who will be found dealing in vogue and vagabonds will face immediate disciplinary action for disobedience of lawful orders.

Among the petty offences dropped include;

1. Idle and disorderly where any person,
a)     Being a prostitute, behaves in a disorderly or indecent manner in any public place.
b)   Wanders or places himself or herself in any public place to beg or gather alms, or causes or procures or encourages any child to do so.
c)    Plays any game if chance for money or money’s worth in any public place.
d)    Publicly conducts himself or her self in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace.
e)    Without lawful excuse, publicly does an indecent act.
f)      In any public place solicits or loiters for immoral purposes.
g)    Wanders about and endeavors by the  exposure of wounds or deformation to obtain or gather alms shall no longer be arrested or punished for being idle and disorderly.

2.     Rogues and vagabonds. Every
a)    Person convicted of an offence of idle and disorderly after having been previously convicted as an idle and disorderly person.
b)   Person going about as a gatherer or collector or alms, or endeavoring to procure charitable contributions of any nature or kind, under any false or fraudulent pretence.
c)    Suspected person or reputed thief who has no visible means of substance and can not give a good account of himself or herself.
d)    Person found wandering in or upon or near any premises or in any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, shall no longer be arrested or punished, for being rogue and vagabond.

Enanga has also warned community leaders to desist from instigating mob justice .

He however points out that other law-level disorders are still punishable by law. For instance common nuisance c/s 160a(1) and (2).