Kampala, 21st/Aug/2018; Journalists covering protests against the continued detention of the Kyaddondo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu also known as Bobi Wine have suffered the wrath of the army and police in what can be described as targeted attacks by the security forces.
Journalists Ronald Galiwango and Juma Kirya of NTV, Julius Muhumuza of Dream TV, Alfred Ochwol of the Observer and James Akena a photojournalist with the Reuters News Agency sustained body injuries and bruises as a result of the beating by the police and the army.
The journalists also had their gadgets confiscated and journalistic work deleted by the security agents. They were separately pushed under the police patrol which was manned by army men and driven around before delivered to the Central Police Station.
“I am in total pain, I have two of my fingers fractured, three big swellings at the back of my skull (head) – they were seriously targeting the head. I don’t know why all this terror. My camera is gone, I don’t know if I will get it back again….” Akena told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Another victim journalist Juma Kirya told HRNJ-Uganda that they were deliberately targeted. “I was with my cameraman Ronald Galiwango, we were filming when the army attacked us, confiscated our gadgets, arrested us and pushed us under the police pick up. They beat us with sticks even when we kept pleading that we’re journalists, we had our press jackets on all that time. The army men destroyed another journalist’s camera right there.” Juma told HRNJ-Uganda
The journalists were later released at the Central Police Station by the police without any charges preferred against them.
The attacks come barely a week after another group of journalists were arrested and assaulted by the presidential guard force of SFC in Arua as they covered the Arua Municipality by-elections in an operation which led to the killing of Bobi Wine’s driver and other legislators arrested and brutally beaten. The journalists were detained and later charged with incitement to violence and malicious damage to property, they were released on bond two days later.
“The media operating environment in the country is deteriorating especially at the hands of the security agents who have the mandate to protect the journalists and other Ugandans. We know that the journalists are innocent victims who need to be protected to do their work. Those perpetrating violence against journalists must be brought to book.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director Robert Ssempala