police officers who assaulted journalists to go scot-free

Kampala, 05th/October/2012; the commandant of Kampala Metropolitan Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi has said that the three journalists assaulted by the police were to blame, accusing them of out stepping their boundaries at the Central Police Station (CPS).
He told Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) at CPS in Kampala that it was wrong for the journalists to approach the police station as though it was an ordinary place. He said the police cannot investigate the matter since the journalists have declined to deposit their damaged cameras with police.
“This is a security installation where people cannot just enter as they wish. They have to follow certain rules. There must be standard operating procedures. We shall not allow people to jus come in here as if it is their home. Those journalists went beyond where they had to stop. When I told officers o take their statements, the journalists refused to hand over their damaged cameras, so we cannot proceed with any case against the officers.” Kaweesi told HRNJ-Uganda.
Kaweesi however did not quote any of the standard operating procedures, but only said that the police was in the process of coming up with such procedures. He accused the victim journalists of being opposition sympathizers. The Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura has severally accused members of the media of being embedded to the opposition.
“Tell those journalists to stop being opposition activists under the guise of journalism. Advise them. We shall not allow them….” He told HRNJ-Uganda.
HRNJ-Uganda reported that two journalists; Isaac Kasamani a photo journalist with the Daily Monitor and William Ntege a.k.a Kyuumakyayeesu of WBS Television had been assaulted by the police at CPS. HRNJ-Uganda has further established that another journalist, Nicholas Mwesigye of the Red Pepper was boxed in the chest and pushed by the police.
“I had a pen and notebook with my Press card displayed in my chest. I was taking down notes when the police started chasing us away, and in the process a policeman in police uniform boxed me in the chest. When I demanded for an explanation, he reacted by pushing me and threatened that he could even beat me more. The tempers were rising but Kaweesi came in and prevailed over his men by saying that he had only told them to stop us from entering but not beating us.” Mwesigye told HRNJ-Uganda.
Mwesigye, just like Ntege and Kasamani, was not allowed to enter CPS to open up an assault case file immediately after the assault.
“The manner in which the police have decided to handle journalists is unacceptable. If the State or police is aggrieved by the work of journalists, it should work within the ambits of the law instead of resorting to illegal, highhanded, arbitrary and such unconstitutional means of assaulting journalists. The police should desist from criminalizing the work of the media to the extent of turning against individual journalists. Police should observe the law to its fullest extent.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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