Masaka, 13th/ July/2012; Police in Masaka detained a Daily Monitor journalist while covering the Bukoto South by-elections. He was handcuffed and assaulted by a female police officer.Herbert Muggaga was arrested at Kinoni town in Masaka at around 10:00PM local time as he went to his hotel and detained at the Masaka Central Police Station for one night. He was later released on orders of the police chief Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura without any charges preferred against him.
He told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he clearly identified himself to the police but they went ahead to arrest him and handcuff only him of all the over 20 people that had been arrested.“The police got me carrying out an interview at a camp set up by the opposition politicians at white house hotel, where I had booked to sleep. I introduced myself and presented my company identity card, but the police operation commander ordered for my arrest. I was mixed with other politicians from where a police man came and handcuffed me tightly causing me pain in the process; he abused me as I pleaded for mercy. A female police officer came and started hitting my joints with a baton. I was later carried on a police truck together with other people to Masaka Central Police station at around midnight from where I was detained at night. I was released the following day without any charges.”
Muggaga was covering a hotly contested by-election for Bukoto South constituency which fell vacant after the election of Muyanja Mbabaali was nullified on academic grounds. The opposition Democratic Party (DP)Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga was declared winner beating the ruling party’s (NRM) flag bearer Alintuma Nsambu.
“This incident was very unfortunate for the police to single out the journalist from the cloud and maltreating him. It was a deliberate move to close out media coverage from the different scenes of the election. Such acts serve to intimidate the journalists who cover opposition related activities, which is a direct attack on the media freedom. Police should refrain from persecuting journalists who cover political events. We want the police to investigate this matter and take punitive action against the police officers that carried out this attack.” Said HRNJ-Uganda advocacy officer Robert Ssempala