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News release

Ugandans cite brutality and corruption among police failings

20 Feb 2023 Uganda
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News release
Key findings
  • A majority of Ugandans say the police “often” or “always” use excessive force in managing protests (57%) and in dealing with suspected criminals (54%) (Figure 1).
  • A majority say the police at least “sometimes” engage in criminal activities (58%) and stop drivers without good reason (68%).
  • Only about one in five citizens (22%) say the police “often” or “always” operate in a professional manner and respect all citizens’ rights; about twice as many (42%) assert that such behaviour is rare or unheard of (Figure 2).
  • Three-fourths (75%) of citizens say “most” or “all” police are corrupt – by far the worst rating among key government institutions the survey asked about (Figure 3).
  • Only four in 10 Ugandans say they trust the police “somewhat” (16%) or “a lot” (25%). The share of citizens who say they don’t trust the police “at all” has almost quadrupled since 2005 (Figure 4).
  • Despite these perceived shortcomings, a majority (57%) of Ugandans say the government is doing a “fairly good” or “very good” job of reducing crime (Figure 5).
  • At least half of Ugandans say they felt unsafe while walking in their neighbourhood (54%) and feared crime in their home (50%) during the previous year (Figure 6). Poor citizens are far more likely to be affected by such insecurity than their better-off counterparts.

In Uganda, a majority of citizens say that police officers frequently use excessive force when dealing with protesters and suspected criminals, Afrobarometer survey findings show. Few think the police usually act in a professional manner and respect citizens’ rights,.

While the government receives favourable ratings on reducing crime, Uganda’s police are widely perceived as corrupt and enjoy relatively weak public trust.

Among citizens who encountered the police last year, a majority say they had to pay a bribe to obtain assistance or avoid problems.