Critical analysis of the legal control of misconduct by undercover law enforcement agents in Uganda
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The study examined the legal control of misconduct by undercover law enforcement officers. The general objective of the study was to assess the adequacy of the legal controls in place in Uganda in preventing, deterring, and remedying misconduct by undercover state agents during undercover operations. The study adopted convenience sampling in selecting the key informants in order to ensure that key informants possessed the required knowledge to participate in the study and to overcome challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Purposive sampling technique was used to ensure diversity. The final sample consisted of nine key informants and seventy members of the public. The primary data collection tools were an interview guide to conduct in-depth interviews of key informants and a questionnaire that was answered by other respondents. The respondents answered the questionnaire anonymously. The key findings of the study revealed that law enforcement agencies in Uganda use undercover operations during investigations. The study also revealed that there is no specific statute or regulations governing the initiation, supervision, use and termination of undercover operations. It was also established that though Uganda has laws that regulate investigations by law enforcement agencies, there are various weaknesses in these laws especially the failure of the laws to expressly regulate undercover operations. Other weaknesses in the legal framework include the lack of internal rules and procedures on the initiation, supervision and termination of undercover operations, failure to enforce rules and regulations that do exist, failure by the Inspectorate of Government to provide independent oversight to law enforcement agencies contrary to its legal mandate and practice of shielding law enforcement agents from incurring the personal consequences of their misconduct. The study advanced various solutions to improve the aforementioned legal framework. The recommendations include, enacting a Covert Investigations Act to regulate undercover policing in Uganda so as to clarify how undercover operations are initiated, supervised and terminated by law enforcement agencies and establishing an Independent Inspector General Office for Law enforcement agencies to ensure independent oversight of the use of investigative powers by law enforcement agencies in Uganda , among others.