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The dos and don’ts of police officer when handling firearms

Daud Mwangosi, a Channel Ten stringer based in Iringa was on duty at Nyololo on the outskirts of Iringa where the cruel death met him. It was just a few days after a similar episode took place in Morogoro where a young man Ally Nzona, a fruit vendor was killed amidst the chaotic crowd mayhem police was supposed to control yet they failed and resulted into his death purported to have been caused by a heavy sharp instrument.

All these occurrences had a common feature that the Chadema Political Party was engaged in party activities and had defied the police orders of not conducting such activities. Much has been written and talked about from a range of speakers and mass media coverage while currently; Judge Ihema with his team is conducting investigations as to what was the cause that led to the death of Mwangosi in Iringa.

While Dr. Nchimbi is waiting for the findings from Judge Ihema’s investigation team, it remains to be a fact that the relationship between police and public has nosedived to the lowest ebb. The Police Jamii has become almost a mockery and it will be an uphill task to spring back to the popularity it used to enjoy.

It is unfortunate that the newsmen this time were the news makers, a rare phenomenon as such; perhaps they became overzealous when they were carrying twin duties of disseminating the information and being the very source of information. In that case, it is important to have some of the facts conveyed by these newsmen to be corrected lest the young generation would be forced to believe on them.

The question of leaders being accountable to the actions occurring in their jurisdictions is proper but it should be put in its correct perspective. It was reported in one of the electronic media that Inspector-General of Police Hamza Aziz (IGP) the second indigenous IGP of this country was forced to resign because of negligent driving causing death to a pedestrian. Based on this explanation, it was argued that the current IGP Said Mwema should also resign!

While it is true that IGP Hamza Aziz caused that accident but was not forced to resign as suggested in that discussion in the media. What happened is that an inquest was held to establish the cause of death but unfortunately the Coroner presiding over the inquest, Mr. Hilary Mkate misdirected himself and went further giving out the verdict that Hamza Aziz was guilty. That according to law was wrong and miscarried the whole exercise.

Later Mr. Hamza Aziz was posted to the Foreign Missions and not retired as alleged. It was reported again in the same media that Minister of Home Affairs Ali Hassan Mwinyi was deputised by Peter Kisumo and they all had to resign at the wake of Mazegenuke and Mwanankoboko’s death at Kigoto torture chamber in Mwanza following the killings of old people suspected of witchcraft. Kisumo had never been Deputy Minister of Home Affairs probably he meant Minister Peter Siyovyela because this saga involved both Home Affairs and Ministry of State (intelligence).

There were officials like Godfrey Ihuya from TIS, Ernest Saidi and Cassian Mkwawa Regional Police Commanders of Shinyanga and Mwanza respectively who with several others were detained in prisons. All this was incorrectly featured in the discussions by the newsmen to establish the seriousness of using excessive force by our police officers and the necessary remedy to avoid impunity which seems to build up in our society.

But who should have the right so assess the necessary or not necessary force used? Reading from the United Nations Criminal Justice Standards for United Nations Police will show you the dos and don’ts of a police officer. In performance of their duties police officials are required to respect and protect human dignity, maintain and uphold the rights of all persons. It is a requirement that human rights education should be compulsory to the police training.

There is a general feeling that Police are practising double standards when dealing with political party affairs such as demonstrations and other meetings which attract a big number of people. However, Police Force is required to be attentive, fair and impartial in the performance of their functions and in particular in their relationship with the public. How are they required to disperse unlawful assemblies? They are required to avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, they must restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.

If it is necessary to use force and firearms, police officials should exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and legitimate objective to be achieved and minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life. Yet the question lingers on as to who should assess the necessary force used in quelling the unruly assembling? This should be assessed by the court of law whereby those involved in the usage of firearm would be required to appear before the court of law.

In case of death, this should be in addition to the inquest but for the assessment of intensity of the usage of the firearm would be determined in the court in criminal case proceedings. This won’t be applicable if the country has been declared in an emergency
state. As a penal administrator in my experience I have seen warders killing escaping prisoners had to be cleared by the court of law and not the Commissioner of Prisons, that the use of firearm was justifiable. This should also apply to Police Officers.

mgosiwasui87@gmail. com +255754342711 Senior Citizen

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Author: KIANGIOSEKAZI WA NYOKA

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