Police officers who had yesterday blocked presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi at Ngeta in Lira for more than 7 hours assaulted journalists and left many with injuries.
The journalists include, Moses Waisswa of Busoga one FM, Batte Ssesanga of BBS Terefayina, John Cliff Wamala of NTV and David Tamale of Bukede TV. Some of the journalists were hospitalized in critical condition.
On November 12, 2020, a group of stick-wielding men who some people suspect to have been state agents, assaulted NBS journalists who had been covering Kyagulanyi, vandalized their car and stole their gadgets including cameras and laptops.
On November 18, 2020 Ghetto TV journalist Ashiraf Kasirye was left unconscious after being pepper sprayed and assaulted by police officers during Kyagulanyi’s arrest in Luuka.
On December 6, 2020, Daily Monitor’s journalist David Lubowa was injured after a teargas canister was thrown at him by police a police officer while police was attempting to arrest some of the members of Kyagulanyi’s campaign team in Jinja.
There have been many other nasty incidents in the past when journalists and other citizens have been mercilessly brutalized and even killed by the very people (police) who are supposed to protect them. The brutality of security organs characterized by assaults, firing of bullets, teargas, and other deadly explosives, is also scaring away tourists and investors from coming to Uganda.
Press Freedom is very fundamental if the media is to promote free and fair elections (democracy) and good governance where journalists execute their work without interference from the state agencies or any other actors.
Christopher Dodd, a former American senator and lawyer, once said, “When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”
In the various reports of Uganda Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Network for Journalists and other human rights bodies, state agencies like Uganda police, the army, RDCs, and UCC have been pointed out as the leading violators of press freedom.
Despite calls from the Electoral Commission, religious leaders, political players, civil society activists, and development partners for police to stop acts of interfering with the campaign activities of opposition presidential candidates, the police acts which have left many Ugandans dead, many injured and others jailed, have continued.
We call upon President Yoweri Museveni and the leaders of security organs to stop the violence orchestrated by security organs which is not only threatening the lives of Ugandans whose future they are supposed to secure but also severally damaging Uganda’s International Image.
President of Uganda Parliamentary Press Association