Kalangala, 05th May 2015; Twanika Kajubi, a reporter working with the Vision Group, attached to Bukedde Television was badly beaten by UPDF officers attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) in Entebbe. Twanika had gone to cover a story about illegal fishing at Semuganja Island in Bufumira Sub-county, Kalangala district where the Kalangala district chairperson, Willy Lugoloobi had led a team to follow up on allegations of refusal by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Reserve Forces to hand over to the area police illegal fishing gear and immature fish which they had reportedly confiscated.
Kajubi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he was beaten by over 20 SFC and reserve force officers all of whom had guns and were in their respective uniforms, “They arrested me together with other three locals from the area. They took us to the island and started beating us. They kicked me, slapped, caned me, and did whatever they did in an incident which lasted about an hour, until they received a phone call from reportedly their commander and then they left me. I had introduced myself to them as a Vision Group Journalist. They asked why I had moved with the District Chairman. My colleague Henry Lubulwa of the Daily Monitor Newspaper survived narrowly.” Kajubi told HRNJ-Uganda
Lubulwa confirmed the attack when contacted by HRNJ-Uganda since he was at the scene and witnessed the incident, saying that he narrowly escaped. Chairman Lugolobi also told HRNJ-Uganda that he witnessed the ugly incident.
Kajubi’s video camera was confiscated by the SFC officers, but later returned to him without deleting the material. He reported the matter to Kalangala Police Station.
Jafal Kasirivu the Commander of UPDF reserve forces which carried out the illegal fishing operation denied having commanded the SFC officers to carry out the alleged assault.
“It is worrying that security agents have continuously abused media freedoms and journalists’ rights with impunity. We call upon the SFC authorities to investigate this matter and bring these errant officers to book. The government should ensure that journalists are safe while doing their work, especially in the run-up to general elections in 2016.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.