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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


NAMWASE, Sylvie. Securing legal reforms to the use of force in the context of police militarisation in Uganda: The role of public interest litigation and structural interdict. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.1203-1229. ISSN 1996-2096.

This article argues that the failure by the Ugandan government to put in place clear regulations governing the use of force and firearms by the police and armed security forces, particularly during joint police and military operations, as part of arrest and crowd control operations, threatens to violate the right to life, the right to freedom from inhumane treatment, the right to assemble and the right to a remedy under the Ugandan Constitution. It argues that the constitutional, statutory law and case law framework in Uganda can facilitate public interest litigation in order to secure the adoption by the Ugandan government of comprehensive and internationally-accepted standards on the use of force and firearms by police and armed security forces. The article draws on a recent progressive decision of the High Court in James Muhindo & 3 Others v Attorney-General, and the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019 to expound on the proactive potential of article 50 of Uganda's Constitution to deliver expedited institutional and human rights-oriented reforms and to afford the courts oversight functions in the implementation of these reforms through structural interdict. These aspects of the public interest litigation framework in Uganda offer a pathway to civilian-led reform in a highly state-controlled, politicised and militarised police and security sector over which Ugandans otherwise have no civilian oversight. Thus, the article explores the potential of public interest litigation as an empowering tool in competing approaches to state formation in transitional contexts and positions public interest litigation as a transformative response to militarisation in a fragile state.

Keywords : use of force; militarisation; police powers; Uganda; James Muhindo & 3 Others v Attorney-General; Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019.

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