Statement: Police should stop the never-ending brutality against journalists

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KAMPALA: 6 October 2023 – At least 14 journalists from seven media houses were on 5 October 2023 arrested by security personnel while covering the return of the National Unity Platform (NUP) president, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (also known as Bobi Wine), into the country. Several journalists were beaten, and their equipment including phones and cameras confiscated in a security operation at Katabi along Entebbe Road and Mpererwe in Kampala. Journalist Joseph Balikuddembe reportedly suffered injuries on the head and one of his eyes.

Those arrested included Joseph Balikuddembe (CBS), Julius Kitone (NBS TV), Isano Francis (NBS TV), Jjengo Eria (Baba TV), Yiga Nasser (Baba TV), Musana Robert (Nexus Media), Richard Olwenyi (NBS TV), Kyambadde Emma (Lujjuliro Online), David Tamale (Bukedde Tv), Mugenyi Ronald, Swaburah Owomukisa, Kenneth Kaweesa (NBS TV), Moses Katumba (NBS TV) and Mariam Nagadya (Baba TV).

Reports indicate that all the arrested journalists were detained at Entebbe Police Station from where some recorded statements, though the charges against them remained unclear.

Findings by ACME indicate that between August 2022 and August 2023, there were 57 freedom of expression-related violations and 61% were specifically against journalists. Arrests (42%) made up the highest percentage of cases, followed by physical assaults (30%).

African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) strongly condemns this brutal and totally unwarranted act by the security services.

“We call upon the leadership of the Uganda Police and other security agencies to stop brutalising journalists who are going about their work, and to bring the perpetrators to account,” said Dr George Lugalambi, the executive director of ACME.

As we approach the International Day to End Impunity for Crime Against Journalist on 2 November, it is our hope that the Uganda Police Force (UPF) leadership will take appropriate action like they did following the incident in which two journalists, Isano Francis and Thomas Kitimbo of NBS TV, were pepper-sprayed by a police officer in April this year. According to a statement by the police, the officer was suspended and handed over to the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) for investigations and action.

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ABOUT AFRICAN CENTRE FOR MEDIA EXCELLENCE: ACME is a Kampala-based independent, non-profit professional organisation committed to excellence in journalism and mass communication in Africa. The organisation fulfils its mandate through refresher training for mid-career journalists; media literacy training for civil society organisations, corporate companies and others; media research; free expression advocacy; and media monitoring.

For further information, please contact Mr Apolo Kakaire on akakaire[at]acme-ug.org

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