Uganda police arrest 11 female lawmakers during protest

Ugandan female Opposition Members of Parliament participate in a protest in Kampala

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Police in Uganda detained 11 female members of parliament on Thursday who they accused of staging of an unlawful protest, with some of the lawmakers sustaining injuries during their arrest.

The lawmakers were detained just outside the parliament buildings in the capital Kampala as they prepared to march to the Ministry of Internal Affairs where they intended to handover a protest note to the minister.

They were protesting what they said was police brutality and use of excessive force to disperse various functions organised by female lawmakers in their local constituencies in recent weeks.

"I strongly condemn the manner in which police this morning arrested the 11 women members of parliament who were peaceful and unarmed. Some are bleeding and for some, the clothes were torn. It was as if they were arresting terrorists," parliament's deputy speaker Thomas Tayebwa said on Twitter.

"Their arrest was shamelessly done at the gates of Parliament. So I don't know if really we are safe if people can be deployed at the gates of parliament just to beat harmless citizens."

Videos of the scuffle that circulated on social media showed police officers struggling to shove the lawmakers, who were all dressed in black attire, into a van.

Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire denied that officers had used excessive force. He accused the lawmakers of resisting arrest and injuring some police officers.

He said they were arrested for engaging in an illegal protest and said they had been released on a police bond.

Over the years Uganda's security personnel have frequently been accused of brutality especially against opponents of veteran leader Yoweri Museveni.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Toby Chopra)