Uganda has been rated and accredited as one of the best countries to host International Conferences worldwide. Following this, Uganda will host the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Kampala from 22-29 September 2019.
As such, ensuring security for our visitors at the event is an essential part of the thoughts of the organizing committee.
Our security has been improving both in numbers, tactical capabilities and technologically. In 2007, we hosted a much larger conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) attended among others by the Queen of England herself and it passed the test of security readiness of our organizers.
Generally, law enforcement and security assessors typically consider a set of specific criteria in determining the likelihood that an event will be targeted for criminal or other undesirable activity.
Size of the event, existing threats to the event, historical, political, or symbolic significance, duration of the event, location, cultural and religious backgrounds of the patrons. Nature and extent of media coverage and lastly the number and levels of dignitaries attending the event. All these characteristics of an event are irresistible attractions for any potential sinister intention.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will have an expected guest list of around 1,000 guests from over fifty commonwealth member countries representing Canada, British Islands, Caribbean, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Logistically, its a massive security undertaking to provide safety for all these guests. With the recent spate of terror attacks around the globe, event security has now become what feels like a painful topic thrust under the spotlight for many event planners.
In Uganda’s case with the CPA event, the security challenge starts immediately from the arrival of the guests as they have to be picked from the airport individually and escorted to their Hotels. Even these hotels have to be protected throughout the period they will be staying here. Basically its a 24-hour hassle for our dedicated security personnel for the entire week of the conference.
In today’s sophisticated world of terrorism, criminals have become smarter and weapons too have evolved into more complex and portable devices giving criminals an easy ride. They can use nearly anything at their disposal as a weapon from cars, motorcycles, human suicide bombers as seen at the Lugogo rugby club attack and of course normal guns to cause harm as witnessed in West-gate shopping mall attack in Kenya where terrorists used AK 47 riffles to kill shoppers.
Therefore hosting countries have had to stay ahead of terrorists to protect not only the lives of their citizens but visiting guests as well.
For the last three decades, Uganda under the stewardship of the National Resistance Movement headed by H.E President Yoweri Museveni has built enough security capacity to protect citizens and their properties plus the country’s frontiers. Even when the enemies changed tactics and employed terrorism as a weapon of choice, our security professionals adjusted to the new threat and combated it.
This has been achieved through the implementation of the defense strategic infrastructure development plan and Uganda Police Force Strategic Policing Plan aimed at professionalizing the army and Police.
The Land Forces have improved and created the capacity to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda on land. The police have strengthened their detection and investigative capacities through training and the creation of a modern forensic laboratory.
Police collaboration with Interpol has been strengthened in order to deal with modern international criminals. Uganda has had a number of success stories where suspected terrorists are netted, paraded before the court and convicted. The UPDF Marine Forces are trained and equipped well enough to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda on water. They are able to patrol Uganda’s territorial waters in order to detect any illegal and terrorism-related activities. This comes in handy for the CPA conference considering that most hotels are on shores of Lake Victoria.
Therefore, because the NRM government made it a priority to create an Army and Police well trained and equipped in Anti-terrorism measures at the national, regional and global levels, we have been able to host numerous international conferences. The confidence which the international community has in Uganda’s security capabilities has been manifested in these conferences we have hosted in the last decades. Our Commonwealth Parliamentarians can rest assured that their safety is guaranteed while here.
The writer is a Communication Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
NOTE: This was first published in The Nile Post