Journalists under their umbrella body, the Uganda Journalists Association have announced a boycott of all Police activities over brutality meted out to them while covering protests by Makerere University students over tuition increment.
Journalists deployed to cover the protests by students against the 15 percent tuition increment are the latest victims of police brutality with Daily Monitor’s Alex Esagala, Godfrey Tumwesigye(NTV) , Chris Ssemakula(BBS TV) and Lawrence Kitatta from Bukedde newspaper falling prey to the police officers.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, UJA president Bashir Kazibwe said it is high journalists stood their ground to denounce brutality meted to them by police.
“We should not continue giving them publicity when at the same time they are at the helm of brutalizing, beating, maiming and nearly killing members of the fourth estate,”Kazibwe said.
This is not the first time journalists announce a boycott on Police activities but according to their president, media owners ought to be part of the sit down strike.
“We are sending this message to managers of the different media organisations to be part of the struggle. It is a struggle geared towards protecting the rights of the media practitioners across the country,” he noted.
The journalists’ body announced they would on Monday be petitioning the Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga over Police brutality.
On Wednesday, for a second consecutive day, journalists were assaulted by police officers while covering the protests at the Ivory Tower.
Showing wounds all over their bodies depicting the horror meted out on them, journalists said police officers had used gun buts and throwing teargas canisters at them.
Human Rights Network for Journalists national coordinator, Robert Ssempala on Wednesday said police had failed on its mandate of protecting citizens, journalists inclusive.
“The police is failing in its mandate,” he said.
Next Media Services, the home of NBS TV and Nile Post among other media outlets on Wednesday issued a statement condemning police brutality on journalists covering the student protests at Makerere University.
“We express concern and condemn the brutal assault of journalists by a section of security officers while on duty at Makerere University. We request that the Uganda Police Force and her sister agencies maintain a standard of respect towards the duty we ought to play as Ugandans,” read in part a statement by Next Media Services.
However, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango claimed that journalists were distant from Police officers and got caught up in the teargas mere.
“We always advise journalists that in this kind of operation they should move near us because teargas does not discriminate,”Onyango said.
He also noted that Police does not know the “plain clothed” people who beat up journalists.
““I am not aware of that incident, and it was not brought to my attention. The incident of some people who are in plain clothes, I am not aware of them and I don’t know them and we don’t know them,” he said.