How Security Forces Have Beaten Down Youth Progress in Uganda

Generally speaking, security seems very good in our dear country Uganda, unlike our brothers and sisters in the northern parts who have been subjected to political wars since 1986. Rebels and government forces have been clashing thereafter up to present day, however recently in these past few years the war has deteriorated, and the rebels have fled to some parts of the Central African Republic and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least that’s what we hear! Besides the above, security has not been that bad like in previous times.

My concern today, then, is about how we as youths continue to get blamed for our country’s security issues while the big heads in power ignore the root causes, such as unemployment and poverty. As if that’s not enough, we can no longer walk free and comfortable in our own city because non-uniformed police are everywhere day and night. Poverty itself has become a crime in a time when you can’t easily save a dime.

Please quote me right. I’m not attacking the security force here. I’m simply addressing vices that continue to eat us up and lead us into actions of regret.

Imagine you leave your job late at night with a very small amount of money in your wallet. You decide to walk along instead of take transportation so that you save some money for tomorrow. On your way, you find these men lined up. They immediately ask you to identify yourself, and before you even grab your identity card, already they are thoroughly checking every part of the body, smelling in the palms of your hands to see whether you smoked Ganja, simply looking for reasons to have you in jail. When you dare try to defend your rights and reason with them, they intimidate you with slaps, beatings of all kind. They also threaten to drop you in some prison gardens, and at this moment you would give away all the money you have to make this end. After, they will ask you to run without looking back. My question is: what kind of police oppresses its own people?

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As times have moved on, we have been introduced to the so called “crime preventers,” a segment of security who assists the police in combating crime at all community levels. These are people who have little knowledge about security. These are former city goons who used to terrorise people and now have been given an opportunity to operate under protection.

A few weeks back, we had a police raid in our ghetto, and unfortunately, four of our brothers didn’t make it through the escape struggle. We were found smoking, while others were caught chewing leaves (mairunji). But in the courtroom, as I speak now, they are battling a murder case they have never heard or known about. All the community was surprised because we very well know about these boys. They are not who the police say they are, but because these officers don’t follow the right order of their work, we the youths have been the victim all along.

A month back when the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, was murdered, the ghettos were raided and youths taken away in what they usually term as “preventive arrest.” But when you use your simple psychology, you see that the man was murdered by an armed killer on a motorcycle on the outskirts of the city. How do you connect this to a ghetto youth who is always struggling for ways to survive? Which youth owns a gun in the slums? If it’s youths having guns, it’s some rich politician’s sons, not the poor ghetto folks. Why should we pay such a huge price?

I’m not saying we are righteous and shouldn’t be touched, but can we have some mutual respect? Can our security officers stop seeing us only as criminals? Can we be protected like everyone else? Can the youth have peace? You have continued to break down any youth organized collective planning on a unified structure by calling them bad examples to society, while rich men use and kill innocent girls, sacrifice young souls, murder fellow rich men, indulge youth into dubious acts, etc.

Now on this issue, we could go on and on because the scar I have on my soul is deeply painful. Our small money is always swindled, small properties taken. We are beaten, but still we are seen as the criminals.

The cypha revolution has been discouraged because of the frequent arrests you subjected to many of us. We are now struggling to again build up something for our fellow youths. The nature of security in Uganda will continue to hinder any sense of development within the youths due to their political approach on everything, especially the disadvantaged youth from the slums who are wasting our time in jails for crimes we didn’t commit because you have orders to fill plantation farms with prison labor. Thereafter, you torture and beat us however you want.

These youths never come home the same. Actually, they will never be the same again. But these are sons and daughters of men and women who care dearly for this land.

Keep the money, funny! All we want is justice!




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