Cash-strapped coops from Uganda spend $ 126 million on CCTV from Huawei

A forest with thin white pillars covered with dark, dark eyes rises quietly on the rugged corners of the Ugandan capital.

Police say the new $ 126 million CCTV system provided by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. For communications, will increase violent crime.

Opposition leaders say law enforcement agencies are very corrupt and have strongly encouraged them to use footage to identify perpetrators. They are worried that police may use facial recognition cameras to target protesters in violent campaigns as the election approaches in 2021.

“The CCTV project is just a tool to track, chase and torture us,” said Ingrid Tornav, leader of the Uganda Democratic Change Forum, Uganda’s largest opposition party.

Face recognition technology is spreading rapidly around the world, raising concerns about potential misuse. Authorities in San Francisco voted in May to ban their use by city employees.

According to an investigation published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, Huawei technicians have already helped spy intelligence officials in Uganda and political opponents of at least another African country.

In Uganda, he helped break the encrypted communications of the famous musician turned politician Bobby Fine. The newspaper said the police held a concert attended by surprise speakers and arrested and dozens of their supporters.

In Zambia, Huawei employees helped the government bring bloggers and Facebook pages to the president, so that they could be tracked down and arrested, the newspaper said.

Huawei dismissed the “unfounded and inaccurate allegations” of the magazine. What law will be violated? ”

Uganda cameras are part of the Huawei Safe City initiative, which has been deployed in more than 200 cities around the world, including China, Pakistan and Russia.

In Africa, Huawei has sold CCTV systems in countries such as Kenya, Egypt and Zambia, where activists have raised similar concerns about privacy and effectiveness. The Huawei initiative includes smaller projects in Europe, France, Germany and Serbia.

The US government has banned trade with Huawei and four other Chinese companies, accusing them of spying and stealing intellectual property.

Huawei has repeatedly denied that it is under the control of the Chinese government, military apparatus or intelligence.

Stir crime

Growing crimes in Uganda are fueling public anger against President Yoweri Museveni, 74, who has been in power since 1986 and is likely to seek another five-year term.

Police in the oil-rich east African country recorded 4,497 murders last year, nearly double the number from five years ago. The number of kidnappings for one-off ransom reached 202 in 2018, up eightfold since 2017.

In a notorious case, the daughter of a wealthy businessman (28 years) was kidnapped and killed even though her family gave $ 200,000 to her captors.

Charles Twain, a spokesman for the Criminal Intelligence and Police Investigations Department, told Reuters that police investigations were now largely based on interviews with witnesses.

This is a very slow and unreliable method of filing a lawsuit.

There are not enough investigators and no forensic experts.

Sutley refused to give the numbers, but the police force was “badly needed”.

The police website said that in 2015 the force was 45,000. This is about half of the UN’s recommended ratio of one policeman for every 500 civilians.

The 2015 budget paper for the Ministry of Internal Affairs contains about 5,500 investigators. Sutley said that if police needed DNA analysts, toxicologists or fiber experts, they should turn to civilian experts.

He hopes the CCTV footage will respond, allowing investigators to know “who committed the crime, how he committed it, what path he took and what equipment he had.”

Of the 3,200 planned cameras covering the capital Kampala, about 2,500 have been installed. Huawei will eventually expand the system to all major cities in the country.

Chewing gum

Ugandan police investigator Herbert Karogaba said for 17 years before joining the United Nations to investigate genocide and war crimes in Rwanda and Cambodia that Ugandan police are poorly paid and have little training to investigate.

“It’s money in vain,” Karugaba said

The Uganda Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, an advocacy group, had its own CCTV course in May 2016 when robbers killed a guard and stole a computer. The group gave the video to the police. Nothing happened.

“After months of investigation, he finally told us that our case file has been lost,” said Adrian Gagoko, president of the group. Not all this crap, CCTV or any CCTV.

The police start with a monthly salary of about $ 150. Most plaintiffs receive $ 270. Lawmakers take home about $ 6,500.

Most police barracks have not been renovated or expanded since the colonial days. An internal police report states that families live in small circular iron cabins, often leaking from them, characterized by congestion and dirty.

Poor salaries and living conditions encourage corruption

People in Uganda often share the stories of policemen seeking bribes, which means that some crimes are unfounded.

In police stations, cases are tested during evidence testing, ” said Mike Chipeta, a former judge who was appointed director of the Public Prosecution in 2013.

Uganda, with a population of 42 million, has only 400 prosecutors. Chipeta said the hearing lasted four years on average.

According to the Prisons Service, half of the country’s 59,000 prisoners are in pre-trial detention.

Chipeta said the experience of old cases was a “big nightmare”. Exhibitions disappear or rot. Witnesses disappear or forget.

In one case, a bloodstained shirt disappeared in a murmur of dust and mold when it was introduced in a 2012 murder trial.

“Everyone in the court started coughing,” Chibeta said.

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