Police will beat you for own safety, IGP Ochola tells journalists

Mr Saif-llah Ashraf Kasirye, a Radio One journalist and an online Ghetto TV cameraman, is carried to hospital after he was allegedly shot in Masaka on December 27. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola Friday refuted reports that police are targeting journalists covering elections that have been marred by violence, arguing that security personnel have been using reasonable force to retrain the press for their own safety.

“We have heard complaints that security is targeting the media. On the contrary, it is the media targeting security. It is portraying security as brutal and siding with government. When we tell a journalist, don't go there and you insist on going where there is danger, we shall beat you for your own safety. I have no apology. We shall not apologise but we shall continue helping you not to go where there is danger,” IGP Ochola told journalists during a security briefing in Kampala ahead of next week’s elections.

IGP Ochola’s response was prompted by a question from one of the journalists who wondered whether police and other security agencies have any plans of apologizing to journalists who have, in the last few weeks, been victimized by their violent actions.

The IGP’s response comes days after security forces on December 27, 2020 targeted three journalists covering presidential campaigns with teargas and rubber bullets, leaving them with injuries at Kyabakuza in Masaka District.

The journalists who were injured are Mr Ali Mivule of NTV, Mr Ashraf Kasirye (Ghetto TV) and Mr Daniel Lutaaya (NBS TV).

Mr Mivule said a police officer had said he’s collateral damage before aiming his shooting him with a teargas canister.

Police and other security forces have unleashed violence on journalists especially those covering Opposition presidential candidates, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP) party and Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party.

Since November last year, journalists covering the presidential campaigns have faced the wrath of security forces on what seems to be targeted attacks on the media to scare them from covering the violence being meted out on Ugandans.