Lira; 12th/January/2012. The Human Rights Network for Journalist-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has petitioned the police’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU) over the arrest of Daily Monitor’s journalist, Opio Emmanuel and deletion of photos from his camera.
HRNJ-Uganda has asked the commandant of PSU, Commissioner Kyomukama Samuel to carry out investigations and ensure that Opio opens up a case file against the officers and take action against those who violated the law. The petition was also brought to the attention of the police chief, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura and the Uganda Human Rights Commission.
Opio, the daily Monitor correspondent based in Lira district, alleges that on the 17th day of December 2011, while he was covering a story where the police were interrogating four suspects arrested during a demonstration that protested UMEME’s failure to provide power to the residents in the area, he was arrested and harassed by the Deputy Regional Police Commander (D/RPC) for Lango region in Northern Uganda, Alfred Tumure.
He further alleges that Alfred Tumure the D/RPC, with the aid of two other policemen roughed him up and slapped him before deleting all materials from his photo camera. The complainant also claims that he was briefly arrested and detained for two hours before the UPDF Army’s 5th Division Spokesperson Ceaser Olweny intervened and pleaded on his behalf.
Opio’s efforts to open up a case file against Tumure at the Lira Central Police Station were allegedly frustrated when all the police officers including the OC CID Tugume Godwin, one Owuni (Police no: 26351) and Mapuwe (no: 25129) along with other plain clothed policemen turned him away, claiming that it was not proper to institute a case against their superior who they believed had committed no offence
If proved, these allegations constitute a violation of the complainant’s right to freedom of information and media freedoms under Article 29 and freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment contrary to Article 24 and 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
“It is therefore in the interest of HRNJ-Uganda that these errant officers are brought to book in a very transparent manner without any delay.” HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala emphasized.