Don’t Leak our Client’s Details, Hoteliers Beg Police

Uganda’s Hoteliers are ready to comply with police’s requirement to pass on detailed particulars of guests who book into their facilities daily, but are concerned about any possible leakage of the information as this would be violation of privacy and also endanger their business.

Maj Gen Geoffrey Tumusiime, the deputy Inspector General of Police, has proposed that hotels, lodges and guest houses be compelled to regularly share their client’s details with territorial police commanders.

Gen Tumusiime says it is not only accommodation venues to provide details of their client’s every day, but local leaders too should also register every person (coming) in their area and give those details to the police of the area.

The second in command of Uganda police force says many criminals spend nights in hotels, lodges and guest houses; commit crimes and disappear. But when police is doing investigations, they realize that the criminals were accommodated in a given hotel or lodge yet their details were not captured.

Gen Tumusiime says it is going to be a must for owners or managers of accommodation facilities as well village leaders to provide details of clients and residents to police at any day, any time whenever such information is needed.

“Whether you are a minister or what; you must give your passport to a hotel manager to first take your particulars. If you go to these places, you ask them and they say they did not get the details. Everyday hotel accommodations, lodges and chairperson must register their residents,” Tumusiime said.

Jean Byamugisha, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Hotel Owners Association said she was busy in a meeting and could not speak to URN. However, some of the hotel owners and managers who were sampled out of this article said they have already been notified by police about the directive.

Hamza Kakande, the manager of Minister’s Village hotel in Ntinda, said they have already been notified and directed to regularly submit their clients’ details to nearby police. Kakande said they have started sharing the clients details to Ntinda police station.

Daniel Kungu, Serana Hotel Kampala’s general manager, said he does not have any issue with Gen Tumusiime’s suggestion provided there is proof that their client’s data will not be exposed to wrong people.

Kungu said they operate a business that is within the law and what police is suggesting is not knew because other cities do it. His only worry is on how such data is protected and urges police to ensure that information is not exposed.

Joseph Ssetuba, the director of Sir Jose hotel along Ggaba road, said police have visited them and informed them to prepare their client’s details every day. However, Ssetuba said some days have passed since police directed them to prepare and share clients details every day but no one goes there to pick them up.

Ssetuba said their role is to prepare their clients details as needed by police but they will not bare the burden of taking them to police. Ssetuba said if police doesn’t pick the their client’s details, they will just pile them every day.

However, Ronald Zzibu, the Nabweru ward chairman, said police needs to first sensitize locals on why they needed to be registered. Without sensitization, Zzibu said the proposal which he says is very important in addressing criminality will fail because some residents need to be convinced on why they should have their details captured.

It is not the first time police have suggested that local leaders shared all details of their residents to nearby police. It is also not new that hotels have ever been directed to register and share client’s information. Previous suggestions failed because there was no sensitizations.

Zzibu said similar setbacks could be faced even this time if police do not conduct sensitization. Zzibu also expresses concern over volatile political situation where people are skeptical about anything that requires giving out their details.

Najib Kasule, a human rights defender and member of Public Interest lawyer, said police’s proposal might be of substance especially to fighting crime but they should remember there is need to respect the privacy of individuals.

Kasule warns that if respect for privacy isn’t considered, it may result into legal battles especially if someone learns that his details captured at a hotel have been shared to security agencies without consent.

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