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To arrest a person is to deprive him of his liberty by a lawful authority for the purpose of
compelling his appearance to answer a criminal charge or as a method of execution. Arrest
involves the taking of the person arrested in custody whereby the person is detained or
confined in a certain place.
According to Art 23 of the Constitution, no person should be deprived of personal liberty.
Once restricted or detained, one has to be kept in a place authorised by law. The Constitution
further requires that a person arrested or detained should be informed immediately in a
language he understands, the reasons for his arrest and his right of a lawyer of his own
1. For purposes of bringing him to court or before court in execution of a court order.
2. Where there is reasonable suspicion of his / her having committed or being about to
commit an offence under the laws of Uganda.
What happens after the person accused has been arrested?
The accused if not released earlier, the arrested person must be brought to court as soon as
possible but in any case not latter than 48 hrs from the time of arrest.
What if the accused person is arrested on a Friday? What is the remedy if you are unlawfully
arrested? Under Art 23(7), a person who is unlawfully arrested or detained by any other
person or authority shall be entitled to compensation from that other person or from the state.
What if you are arrested and not brought to court? Art 23(9) provides that a person has a right
for an order of habeas corpus. This is basically a prerogative writ directing a person who has

been detaining another person in custody commanding him to produce or have the body of
the person arrested and produced in court.
a) Arrest with warrants of arrest;
This is provided under sec 56 of the M.C.A or sec 5 of the T.I.A. The warrant must be in
writing as per sec 56 M.C.A, signed by the judge / magistrate issuing it and must bear the
seal of court. It must be directed to a person ordering him to arrest a person described in the
warrant to bring him before the court having jurisdiction and it must state briefly the charge
against that person and describe his details.
A warrant of arrest may be directed to the following people:

A specific police officer or generally all police officers or a chief (individual chief) or a

private person eg land holder, farmer or manager of land with in the local limits of the
jurisdiction of the chief magistrate. See sections 58, 59 and sec 7 T.I.A.
How then does one define local council officials? They can arrest as private persons.
Under sec 56(3) and 57(3) T.I.A, a warrant of arrest remains in force until it is executed or
cancelled by the court which issued it. A warrant may be executed at any place in Uganda or
out side under extradition, see sec 61 M.C.A & sec 11 T.I.A.


Under sec 61 M.C.A or sec 10 T.I.A when executing a warrant, a police officer or other

person executing it is required to inform the person to be arrested the substance of the

The arresting officer must take the person arrested to custody or to court without un

necessary delay.

Under sec 63 M.C.A, where the arrest is made out side the local limits of the

jurisdiction of the court which issued it, and more than 20 miles from the court, the arrested
person should be taken before the magistrate within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the
arrest was made. This is to prevent prejudice or unfairness to the accused.
According to sec 2(1) C.P.C.A, in making an arrest, the police officer making the same shall
actually touch or confine the body of a person to be arrested unless there is submission to the
custody by word or action.
What if the person resists arrest?
Under sec 2(2), if a person forcibly resists the Endeavour to arrest him or attempts to evade
the arrest, such police officer may use all the means necessary to effect arrest. However, the
force used in the circumstances should be reasonable, what is reasonable is a question of
fact. Therefore only reasonable force is allowed in order to effect an arrest. Otherwise
excessive force is unlawful. In determining the degree of force to be used, the arresting officer
needs to consider the following;

The seriousness of the offence committed.

The manner in which the offence was committed. Under sec 29 of the Police Act Cap

303, a police officer may use a fire arm under the following circumstances;
a) where the person charged with or convicted of a felony escapes from lawful custody

b) The person who through force rescues another from lawful custody.
c) The person who through force prevents the lawful arrest of himself or another person.
In using force, the police officer must have the following grounds;

The police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that he cannot otherwise

prevent any act or effect the arrest.

The police must have issued a warning to the offender that he is going to resort to the

use of arms and the offender does not heed to the warning.

That the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that he or any other person

is in danger of grievous bodily harm if he does not resort to the use of arms.
There are several circumstances under which a person can be arrested without a warrant;
By a police officer. A police officer is defined as any attested member of the police force as
per sec 3(d) of the Police Act. Under sec 24 Police Act and sec 10 C.P.C.A, a police officer
can arrest a person without a warrant under the following circumstances;
a) Where he suspects upon reasonable grounds that such a person has committed a
cognizable offence (chapter 28 of the Penal Code Act)
b) Where a person commits a breach of peace in his presence
c) Where a person obstructs a police officer in the execution of his duties or a person who
has escaped from lawful custody or has attempted to escape from lawful custody
d) Where a police officer suspects upon reasonable grounds that such a person is a deserter
from the armed forces of Uganda (sec 10 C.P.C.A) and any person a police officer finds on a
high way or any other place during the night and whom the police officer suspects of having
committed a crime.
e) Any person whom the police officer suspects upon reasonable grounds of having been
concerned in any criminal act committed out side Uganda.

f) Any person having in his possession with out lawful excuse, implements for house
g) Any person to whom the police officer on reasonable grounds believes that a warrant of
arrest has been issued.
h) Where a person is in possession of property suspected of having been stolen or who may
reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to such a thing.
i) Other circumstances under which a police officer can arrest with out a warrant are
provided for under sec 11 C.P.C.A eg vagabond or habitual robbers (criminals).
A police officer can also arrest a person who commits an offence in his presence and
refuses to give his name and residence or he gives a wrong name and address. See S. 13
C.P.C.A. Read the case of Joseph Byaruhanga, where this person shot at suspects and the
issue was whether a person arrested should always be in hand cuffs? He was not charged
hence sec 13 did not apply. Appeal; was dismissed too.
A magistrate, under sec 19 of the C.P.C.A. It provides that a magistrate may arrest a person
who commits an offence in his presence with in the local limits of his jurisdiction.
Arrest by local administration police
These powers were given under the Police Act. However whenever these officers of the local
administration are required to operate under the immediate direction and control of the officer
in charge of Uganda police force.
Arrest by a chief
Chiefs were given powers of arrest by the Local Administration Act 1967. Under sec 40, every
chief is required to obey all orders issued and warrants issued to him by any court or any
competent authority responsible for law and order. However, this Act was repealed by the
Local Government Act 1997. A chief is required to collect and communicate intelligence
affecting public peace, prevent the commission of an offence and public nuisance and to
detect and bring offenders to justice and apprehend those for whose apprehension he has
sufficient grounds to do.

Arrest by private persons

Under sec 15(1) C.P.C.A, a private person may arrest any person who, in his view commit a
cognisable offence or whom he suspects of having committed a felony. Secondly the owner of
property or his servants or persons ordered by him may arrest a person being arrested with
out a warrant in any of the above situations has a right to know why he is being arrested.
Under sec 16 C.P.C.A. any person arrested must be handed over to the police. It is not
necessary to tell the reason of arrest where the reason of arrest is obvious.