It has been a rather hot and heated debate on whether the vendors should ‘GO’ or ‘STAY PUT’. As far as the debate- it is still ongoing in some circles, however the decision was made to have all unauthorized vendors removed from the city’s streets. When the operations to remove vendors started, the mode in which the street vendors were being removed raised calls of distress through the public the methods of the Authority’s enforcement officials were widely condemned. Even the Minister for Kampala, Hon. Betty Kamya has criticized the methods of some law enforcement agents also colloquially referred to as city KABODES.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF CONCERN?
Believe it or not these city vendors are countrymen and women of the Republic of Uganda and while their economic status and location may be at stake they still have respected rights. During the process of removal, some vendors reportedly had their property dragged away or damaged, individuals were roughly thrown onto patrol vehicles, some of them with infants. The outrage which followed the Authority was not about the evictions and arrest, but rather about the manner in which they were carried out.
DO CITY VENDORS HAVE RIGHTS?
As a prime reference, the 1995 Constitution of the Republic Of Uganda lays out a number of rights that people in Uganda are entitled to. These are summarized to include the following:
1. A right to life,
2. A right to protection from discrimination,
3. A right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment,
4. A right to personal liberty and freedom of movement,
5. A right to a fair hearing before a competent court or tribunal.
The rights listed above are only a few of the freedoms and entitlements the city vendors have- among many. While carrying out any directives- the KCCA officers, agents and the police they work with are supposed to respect and ensure that these rights are protected.
The rights of people in Uganda are supposed to be protected and enforced for all people regardless of their social status. There are some rights where in certain circumstances they can be limited, however generally speaking the constitutional rights of every person are supposed to be protected and upheld.
DO THE CITY VENDORS HAVE DUTIES?
Even though the vendors should not be abused and their rights denied them, they have got duties to obey the law.
Hawking in a place where the authority has been clear it is illegal to amounts to an offence. When the authority notices that there is an offence committed it has the power to order the offenders to leave that restricted place. Where the offenders refuse to leave that place, then the authority can remove them.
WHEN ILLEGAL VENDORS ARE BEING REMOVED- IS FORCE ALLOWED?
When vendors are being removed from a prohibited place, the authorities are not supposed to use force. Should the vendors refuse to move as instructed, then the authorities can use minimal force- just enough, to get them to move from the place.
Where the said vendors resist their being removed, and in their resisting they use force- then they can be removed with more force which is just enough to execute the orders of the authority. This means that when people sit down and refuse to move, the authorities can carry them away, and like that they will end up using force.
WHAT COULD BE DONE TO SAFEGUARD AND PROTECT LIVES?
In order to ensure that rights are safeguarded and people’s lives are protected it is prudent for all involved parties to keep in mind the following
1. You have rights, but also a responsibility to follow the law
2. Where you are unsatisfied with a decision by an administrative authority, use legal means to challenge it
3. Resisting arrest is an offence/ crime in itself, and only makes things worse
4. Using force to resist arrest enables the law enforcement officials to use more force
Law Enforcement Officials
1. Force should be reasonable and only what is necessary, excessive force is unlawful
2. Please try all other methods of achieving a goal before resorting to force
3. A person does not lose their rights just because they commit a criminal offence or break the law.