Moroto | November 2022: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Uganda, together with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), UNICEF and the Training School of Uganda Police Force (UPF), conducted a Training of Trainers on human rights standards applicable to criminal investigations for 28 police officers (two women and 26 men) working under Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) in Karamoja.
The ToT programme was designed to enhance the knowledge and understanding of human rights standards applicable to police investigations and improve the quality of investigations through adoption of non-coercive and rapport-based interviewing methods.
The topics covered include human rights standards applicable to arrest and police custody, application of child diversion guidelines and management of violence against children, principles of effective interviewing for investigations and information gathering including the PEACE model and collection and management of evidence and exhibit. OHCHR will carry out similar trainings for other CID officers in the Karamoja region.
In the opening remarks, Mr. Yusuke Hara, OHCHR Moroto Team Leader underscored the importance of interviewing in criminal investigations because the number of interviews conducted can have a profound impact on the outcome, fairness, efficiency, and reliability of any subsequent criminal proceedings. Mr. Piramoe Paul UHRC, Moroto Regional Human Rights Officer stated that the police play a critical role in maintaining law and order in society and the training would enable officers to investigate allegations of human rights violations in a prompt and effective manner. Mr. Francis Chemusto UPF, Mt. Moroto Regional Police Commander appreciated the constructive engagement and timely intervention by OHCHR to support capacity building of CID which lacks sufficient qualified staff in the region.
Mr. Henry Kalulu, the Regional Human Rights and Legal Officer, elaborated on the 2019 UPF Human Rights Policy, stressing the importance of human rights-based policing and responsibilities of each police officer in observance, protection and promotion of human rights at all times.
The participants were invited to share key challenges in conducting criminal investigations. They pointed out lack of medico-legal evidence for capital offences, language barriers, limited number of female officers to handle cases of gender-based violence, and the persistent practice of health workers demanding fees for medical examination, lack of effective coordination with the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and resource constraints.
Overall, the training emphasised: 1) that the treatment of suspect and detention conditions are critical factors for effective interviewing and 2) an interviewee’s vulnerabilities must be properly assessed and duly considered throughout the process of criminal investigation.
Participants also performed a role play for conducting an interview of different profiles of suspect, witness, and victim with use of PEACE model of interviewing. Mr. Fred Nantamu, the Deputy Commandant of CID Training School, described an interview as a structured conversation between an investigator and a suspect, witness or victim and encouraged participants to apply the PEACE model of interviewing effectively in order to avoid resorting to “third degree techniques like coercion and torture”.
Together with some of the participants, OHCHR will carry out similar trainings targeting all CID officers across Karamoja region in the first quarter of 2023 in order to improve the quality of criminal investigations by the police in accordance with international human rights standards.