Iganga, 16th/ January/2014; two security guards in Iganga who assaulted a Red Pepper journalist, Solomon Hamala on 13th/January/2014, are still at large four days after the ugly incident, much as the matter was reported to Iganga Central Police Station. The guards are attached to Acurate security services limited -owned by an Asian investor.
Hamala, a staff reporter with the Red Pepper -covering the Busoga East region in Eastern Uganda, sustained serious injuries on the head and back during the incident which lasted close to 30 minutes at the main taxi park. He bled profusely. He had gone to the park to cover a demonstration by kiosk owners against the intended demolition of their kiosks by the Iganga Municipal Council.
“Two armed security guards manning the park, after knowing that I was a journalist, started beating me using a baton, stick and a bicycle rock several times on the head. I tried to plead with them but they couldn’t stop until a good Samaritan came to my rescue. I sustained deep cuts on the head, hands and back as a result of the beating. In the process I lost my digital camera, cell phone and money.” Hamala told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda.
He was admitted at Namu clinic along Ssaza road in Iganga district. He told HRNJ-Uganda that the police officer in charge of crime investigations at Iganga Central police station, Otuu Mathew told him to first produce witnesses before he could arrest the two security guards. “We cannot arrest the men before getting documents from witnesses. When we get documents, we will arrest the men.” Otuu told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview. The District Police Commander (DPC), Herbert Nuwagaba claimed not to know about the matter, “Am not aware of the incident”. The Uganda Police Force has for many years ranked as the worst tormentors of journalists in Uganda.
“HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the police’s conduct of failing to arrest the culprits in a matter that was reported to them, and medical form which described the assault as grievous harm was shared with them. Police must arrest the guards, investigate the matter and take the suspects to court in order to deliver justice to the journalist. Impunity must not be condoned by the police force which is supposed to ensure the safety and security of Uganda, including journalists as they carry on with their work.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala