A person is arrested to be brought before a court:
- in execution of an order of a court;
- upon reasonable suspicion to have committed an offence under the laws of Uganda.
Criminal proceedings can be instituted by three possibilities:
- by a police officer bringing a person arrested – with or without a warrant – before a magistrate upon a charge;
- by a public prosecutor or a police officer laying a charge against a person before a magistrate and requesting a warrant of arrest or a summons;
- by any other person who makes a complaint and applies for the issue of a warrant of arrest or a summons because she/he has reasonable and probable causes to believe an offence has been committed.
A private person complaint may be made orally (and then reduced into writing by the magistrate) or in writing signed by the complainant to a magistrate who investigates on the presumed criminal offence. The magistrate will then confirm or infirm after considering prima facie that the offence is not frivolous or vexatious. To make her/his decision the magistrate consult the local chief of the area to be assured of the truthfulness of the complaint, except if the complaint is supported by a letter from the local chief.
Arrest with warrant
The court may issue a warrant for the apprehension of a person against whom a charge has been preferred. The purpose of the arrest is to answer to the charge mentioned in the warrant.
The warrant of arrest shall:
- state shortly the offence;
- name and describe the person under suspicion;
- give the order to apprehend the person.
Arrest without warrant
The 1994 Police act is less accurate than the 1950 Criminal procedure act.
According to the 1994 Police act, a police officer may arrest – without a court order and without a warrant – any person whom she/he has reasonable reason to suspect that has committed or will commit an offense. In contrast, the 1950 Criminal procedure act lists different grounds to arrest a person without warrant.
Any police officer may – without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant – arrest any person who:
- any person whom a police officer suspects upon reasonable grounds of having committed a cognisable offence or nuisances and offences against health and convenience;
- any person who commits a breach of the peace in the presence of a police officer;
- any person who obstructs a police officer while in the execution of her/his duty
- any person who has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody;
- any person whom a police officer suspects upon reasonable grounds of being a deserter from the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces;
- any person whom a police officer finds during the night and whom she/he suspects upon reasonable grounds of having committed or being about to commit a felony;
- any person whom a police officer suspects of having been concerned in any act committed out of Uganda which, if committed in Uganda, would have been punishable as an offence;
- any person having in her/his possession – without lawful excuse – any implement of housebreaking;
- any person for whom a police officer has reasonable cause to believe a warrant of arrest has been issued;
- any person in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property or who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to that thing;
- any person who in the presence of a police officer has committed or has been accused of committing a non-cognizable offence refuses on the demand of the officer to give her/his true name and residence.
Officer in charge of a police station
Any officer in charge of a police station may – without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant – arrest or cause to be arrested:
- any person found taking precautions to conceal her/his presence within the limits of that station under circumstances which afford reason to believe that she/he is taking the precautions with a view to committing a cognisable offence;
- any person within the limits of that station who has no ostensible means of subsistence or who cannot give a satisfactory account of her/himself;
- any person who is by repute an habitual robber, housebreaker or thief, or an habitual receiver of stolen property knowing it to be stolen, or who by repute habitually commits extortion habitually puts or attempts to put persons in fear of injurypossession of any implement for housebreaking.
An officer in charge of a police station may discharge a person arrested without a warrant – after due police inquiry – when insufficient evidence is disclosed on which to proceed with a charge.
Person in charge of lawful custody
The person in charge of lawful custody of a person arrested may rearrest that escaped or rescued person from her/his custody.
Any private person may arrest any person:
- who in her/his view commits a cognizable offence;
- whom she/he reasonably suspects of having committed a felony.
An owner of the property or her/his servants or person she/he authorized may arrest – without a warrant – a person found committing an offence involving injury to her/his property (section 15 of the Criminal procedure code act).
- Section 23 sub.4 of the Constitution
- Section 42 of the Magistrates courts act
- Section 56 of the Magistrates courts act
- Section 23 of the Police act
- Section 10 of the Criminal procedure code act
- Section 11 of the Criminal procedure code act
- Section 13 of the Criminal procedure code act
- Section 15 of the Criminal procedure code act
- Section 17 of the Criminal procedure code act
For more informations:
- AYUME, (F.-J.), Criminal Procedure and Law in Uganda, Longman Kenya Limited, 1986, p.42
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