Makerere, 25th October 2019; Over fifteen (15) journalists who were covering a press conference convened by the Guild Council leaders of Makerere University have been teargassed and beaten by the police as they forced them out of the University campus.
The journalists say that the attack on them was on the directives of the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe’ personal assistant Gordon Murangira on Friday morning.
Journalists were forced out of the conference by security personnel and ordered them to delete materials they had recorded. Some of the victims were from Nation Media, Vision Group, Uganda Radio Network, Galaxy FM, BBS TV, and Record TV among others. Social media is awash with video scenes of the police battling journalists at the University.
“At about 9 am, while we were covering a press conference called by the Makerere University Guild Council at Makerere, the police came and started pushing us out. The conference was disrupted and ended abruptly. When we came out, we started recording the arrest of the two representatives of the people with disabilities, police again attacked us forcing us to delete all that we had recorded. They went for one of us, Davidson Ndabahika of Uganda Radio Network (URN), they tried to strangle him as they arrested him in a bid to force him to delete, but we mobilized ourselves and foiled their efforts.” A female journalist, Damalie told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda
Another journalist, Davidson told us that they were teargassed to force them out of the university as a way to ensure that they did not cover the actions of the security forces as they arrested students. Police succeeded in arresting Abbasi Muyembe and Ronald Kamusiime who represent students with disabilities at the Guild Council in a move that has seen over forty (40) students including the Guild President arrested in a three-day joint security force against students protesting the increase of university fees.
The journalists say their attack was superintended over by one Officer in Charge who kept directing the security personnel to get them out and arrest those who questioned the orders.
“These acts by the security are very despicable and a direct affront to press freedom. The journalists are not breaking any law by covering the peaceful protests of the students, and so it is arbitrary to attack them while on duty. An individual police officer will be held personally liable for the violations.” Said the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda Executive Director, Robert Ssempala.