EU-funded SSCoS project promotes dialogue between Police and Kisenyi residents


July 25, 2018

By Abubaker Mayemba

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, recently organized a town hall meeting aimed at facilitating cordial conversations between the Police and residents of Kisenyi slum in Kampala city. 

This was the fourth such meeting organized by the Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slums (SSCoS) project, after those in Bwaise, Katwe and Kabalagala. These town halls are activities under SSCoS, which is a three-and-a-half-year project wholly funded by the European Union.

Meetings between Police and residents of informal settlements can often be volatile, but not this interaction at the Presbyterian Church grounds.  The event was graced by senior police officers that included Chief Political Commissar Asan Kasingye and Kampala Metropolitan commander Moses Kafeero. They joined local leaders and residents to discuss how they can work together to combat radicalization.

Some residents complimented Officers such as Kasingye for building bridges, while others vented their frustration at the Force. The police officers listened and seemed to take it all in, with Kasingye apologizing for any past transgressions by crime preventers. But officers also challenged the community to work with the Police.

Just like previous town halls, Kisenyi residents were also clustered into groups where they were tasked with identifying the roles of the Police, community, and youth in preventing violent extremism and radicalization. During their presentations, majority of them suggested that religious leaders, celebrities, local leaders, and teachers need to be involved. 

In his remarks, AIGP Kasingye commended IOM for providing Police with Early Warning equipment to be used by Police officers at three Police stations in the target slums, to identify drivers of crime. He observed that when the Police works with the community, they can combat bad elements in society in time to avert danger. 

“Police needs to harness the relationship with the community. We [Police] need to understand what is going on in slums so that radicals don’t take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities,” said Mr Kasingye who represented Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi, the deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP). “The most important thing is to identify those potential rogue elements or potential threats and change them.”

Further, the Chief Political Commissar said they would strengthen leadership at local level by deploying professional officers to improve Police-people relations. He urged officers not to reveal whistleblowers’ identities because it deters people from collaborating with the Police.

Kasingye further urged Police and community members to embrace urban migrants and refugees because it’s through working jointly that they will combat inter-communal conflicts and radicalization.
“Let’s not discriminate them but involve them in fighting crime,” he said.

 

Ms Sabrina Bazzanella, the Governance Advisor on Democracy and Human Rights at the European Union Delegation to Uganda, said the meeting would inform residents of the different drivers of violent extremism and radicalization. She further observed that SSCoS’s different types of interventions would not solve all problems but would contribute to improve the lives of some, especially the most vulnerable (youths and women). Like Kasingye, she too asked Kisenyi residents to embrace the Early Warning center to be set up in Kisenyi by the Police soon.

“We want the police and community to work hand in hand to prevent and deter crime and violence at large. This will allow to build stronger communities,” said Ms Bazzanella.

Under SSCoS’s Result Areas Three and Four, the project aims at increasing communities’ and security agencies capacity to provide human rights-sensitive services and  combat intercommunal conflict. 

Mr Ali Abdi, the IOM Uganda Chief of Mission, stressed that a cordial relationship was very important for peace and cohesion in communities. He explained to the audience that it was their duty to support and cooperate with the Police.

“Unfortunately this is not always the case, hence this project hopes that the people and police talk to one another to improve their relationship.”