Uganda Police Force will no longer arrest people on the petty offence of Rogues and Vagabonds following a Constitutional Court ruling that repealed and decriminalized it from the Penal Code Act after it was found to be vague, archaic and Unconstitutional.
During the weekly police press conference at Naguru on Monday, SCP Enanga Fred the Police Spokesperson noted that all police officers have with immediate effect been tasked to fully comply with the ruling, and STOP any arrests for minor infractions of Rogues and Vagabonds.
The behaviours that are no longer punishable by law include; idle and disorderly where any person, being a prostitute, behaving in a disorderly or indecent manner in any public place, wandering or placing oneself in any public place to beg or gather alms, or causing or procuring or encouraging any child to do so.
The others are; Playing any game of chance for money or money’s worth in any public place, publicly conducting oneself in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace, without lawful excuse, and publicly doing an indecent act.
“In any public place, solicits or loiters for immoral purposes. Wanders about and endeavours by the exposure of wounds or deformation, to obtain or gather alms,” Enanga says all these shall no longer be arrested or punished for being idle and disorderly.
Rogues and vagabonds include; Every person convicted of an offence of idle and disorderly, after having been previously convicted as an idle and disorderly person, a person going about as a gatherer or collector of alms or endeavouring to procure charitable contributions of any nature or kind, under any false or fraudulent pretence and the suspected person or reputed thief, who has no visible means of substance and cannot give a good account of himself or herself.
It also refers to a person found wandering in or upon or near any premises or in any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, shall no longer be arrested or punished, for being rogue and vagabond.
“The takeaway from the constitutional ruling is that the public should expect the police to move away from these low-level disorders, that allegedly criminalize poor people and persons of low status, and spend a considerable amount of time to look into other serious and violent crimes,” says Enanga.
He adds that the scrapped cases will also help them free up resources to address other serious crimes.
“Therefore, any police officer, who will be found dealing in rogue and vagabonds, will face immediate disciplinary action for disobedience of lawful orders. In addition, all local leaders and the community, should also comply with the ruling and desist from acts of vigilantism and mob justice,” Enanga warned.
However, the police spokesperson warned that there are other low-level disorders that are still punishable by law and these include; common nuisance c/s 160a (1) and (2) of the Penal Code Act.
Any person who does an act not authorized by law or omits to discharge a legal duty and thereby causes any common injury or danger or annoyance, or obstructs or causes inconvenience to the public in the exercise of common rights, commits the misdemeanours termed a common nuisance and is liable to imprisonment for one year.
It is immaterial that the act or omission complained of is convenient to a large number.
Under Sec 300 of the Penal Code Act; Persons found etc with intent to commit a felony.
Any person who is found Armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument, and being so armed, with intent to break or enter any building, structure or curtilage and to commit a felony in it; having in his or her possession without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him or her, any housebreaking instrument; having his or her face masked or otherwise disguised, with intent to commit a felony, in any building, structure or curtilage by night with intent to commit a felony in it, in any building structure or curtilage by day with the intent to commit a felony in it and have taken precautions to conceal his or presence or by night wandering or moving about by whatever means and being armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him or her, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 7 years.