ACME commends Uganda Police’s response to the pepper spraying of journalists by its officers

Kampala— ACME applauds the actions taken by the Uganda Police Force (UPF) leadership following the incident in which two journalists, Isano Francis and Thomas Kitimbo of NBS TV, were pepper sprayed by a police officer.

On Tuesday, 11 April 2023, during the dispersal of pre-intern doctors holding a peaceful demonstration around Mulago Guest House in Wandegeya, Corporal Ogwal Yeeko attacked the journalists without reasonable cause. According to a statement by the police, the officer has been suspended and handed over to the Professional Standards Uni (PSU) for investigations.

Further, Assistant Superintendent of Police Kamulya Sowali, the officer in charge (OC) of the Field Force Unit Kira Division, Assistant Inspector of Police Ogwang John Steven, the OC Operations Wandegeya, and Police Constable Laker Harriet have also been summoned by the Professional Standards Unit. We understand that they are being investigated to the fullest extent. The police have also encouraged the two journalists to seek justice by recording statements with PSU as the basis for bringing charges against the officers.

We applaud the UPF for unequivocally condemning this behaviour and apologising to the victims and Next Media Services.

We hope these actions will help stem the growing impunity of law enforcement officers and the constant violations against journalists going about their work in Uganda. We call upon the police leadership to follow through the actions they have initiated to their logical conclusion.

We hope that the actions taken by police leadership this week mark the beginning of a meaningful cordial, and respectful working relationship between the media in Uganda, the police and other security agencies.

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