Thursday March 29 2012

Journalists threaten to boycott police activities

By Sarah Tumwebaze

Journalists under the Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) have threatened to boycott all police and security activities if police does not apologise and fully investigate the brutal treatment of journalists within one week.

Mr Mulindwa Mukasa the Executive Board Chairperson of (HRNJ-Uganda) while addressing journalists yesterday at Speke Hotel said in a period of two weeks, five journalists and one lawyer have been roughed up by police.
“These are the same people that claim that we have a cordial relationship with them. We rather not have any relationship at all if cordial to them means beating and kicking us around.”

Mr Robert Ssempala the Advocacy, Networking, Research and Documentation Officer at (HRNJ-Uganda) also added that on many occasions they have tried to engage the Uganda police so that they can come to good terms but their efforts have been fruitless.

He said that this has prompted them to give police one week in which, “We are going to meet with other media stake holders and human rights bodies to monitor the progress of police towards the investigation of the beating of journalists and also wait for their apologies which have to be coupled with a change of behaviour.”

Mr Ssempala explains that on many occasions police has come out to apologise but they still turn and do the same thing. However this time round, “If they do not change, we are going to publish every bad thing we have concerning police so that they can know that we are not happy about the way they treat us,” Siraje Lubwama a journalist with the Observer said.

On March 27 2012, journalists Siraje Lubwama of the Observer, Joseph Mutebi of Bukedde Newspaper and Hasifah Wanyana of Kingdom Radio were physically assaulted as they covered Dr. Kizza Besigye and his co-accused as they were leaving court.

According to a statement released by (HRNJ-Uganda), Lubwama and Mutebi were both slapped by the Regional Traffic Officer for Kampala Metropolitan Police, Lawrence Niwabiine, for taking notes and photographing the police as they beat civilians.

On March 21 2012 other journalists, Edward Echwalu of the Observer and Reuters and Anatoli Luswa of Eddoboozi Newspaper were attacked by police for taking pictures of police battering people.