President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni have ordered the Police Force to stop arresting people for being “idle and disorderly” and also release them. Especially, the ones taken in by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) enforcement. The President want their prosecution discontinued and also stop arresting illegal traders there.
This is clearly a mission from the President who orders this, but if the Republic is supposed to be a land of law and order. Than, the President should get some of his minions to repeal one of his colonial laws, which he has kept and used when in need. Now, his saying the Police Force should stop using it. I will first show, the Penal Code part, which is used and a little history behind why its there today.
The Penal Code Section 167. says:
“Idle and disorderly persons.
Any person who—
(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 at any game of chance for money or money’s worth in any public place;
(d) publicly conducts himself or herself in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace;
(e) without lawful excuse, publicly does any indecent act;
(f) in any public place solicits or loiters for immoral purposes;
(g) wanders about and endeavours by the exposure of wounds or deformation to obtain or gather alms” (Penal Code Act of 1950).
Short history of the Penal Code:
“As such the Africa Order in Council, 1889 was applied to it. Under this Order in Council, statutes of general application in Britain at the time applied to Uganda. One of these was the ‘Idle and disorderly’ Act, 1824. In 1902, the Uganda Order in Council gave powers to the Governor to make laws that apply to the protectorate. The governor passed the Applied Indian Acts Ordinance in 1907, which made the law applicable to India at the time applicable to Uganda. Thus Uganda started using the Indian Penal Code, 1860 until 1930 when the Uganda Penal Code Ordinance was introduced. The Indian Penal Code did not criminalise idle and disorderly conduct or being rogue and vagabond. Similarly, the 1930 Penal Code Ordinance did not criminalise being ‘idle and disorderly’. The criminalisation of both ‘idle and disorderly’ and ‘rogue and vagabond’ was introduced under the 1950 Penal Code, which is still the Penal Code Act in force today, now designated as the Penal Code Act, Chapter 120 of the Laws of Uganda, 2000” (HRAF – ‘ THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE ENFORCEMENT OF‘IDLE AND DISORDERLY’ LAWS ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF MARGINALISED GROUPS IN UGANDAP: 23, 2016).
So, now, the President is now suspending the arrests of the idle traders and other people taken by the section of society, which the KCCA and Police Force deems them as “idle and disorderly”. This is part of the Penal Code, which has been historically used by the state to restrictive laws of society control. However, the state has kept it, because its a useful tool by the state.
Now, the President suspend it and stops the Police from using it. However, the law is still enforced, unless the National Resistance Movement or some MPs are amending it or repealing this law. Therefore, the act of the President today with ordering the UPF to suspend doing it. Can only be seen as a temporary suspension or even a PR stunt. Because, the law is still enforced. The law is still active.
This means, the state can still use the law, even if the President has sent a circular and order from above. The law is still there and looking at the public. The Colonial heritage is still there and the usage of it is still common practice. Just wait to the campaign season and general election in 2021, the state will use the Penal Codes like no tomorrow. Peace.