Ugandan police unit disbanded over abuse

2011-12-09 13:30

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.