Ugandan news editors, under their umbrella body, the Editor’s Guild have expressed concerns over the continued attacks on members of the fourth estate by security agencies, the latest being orchestrated by military police.
Several journalists were on Wednesday badly beaten by military police as they covered National Unity Platform’s Robert Kyagulanyi as he petitioned the United Nations Human Rights over violation of his rights and those of his supporters.
In a statement, the Editor’s Guild said despite repeated appeals over time to security agencies as well as law enforcement personnel to respect the rights of journalists to work freely, the blatant attacks have continued.
“The actions of security personnel are disappointing and unacceptable. As we have noted before, we will continue to document collective attacks against journalists and the individual officers who carry them out and those with operational command. These attacks will not go unrecorded or punished. Impunity shall not be allowed to thrive,” said Slyvia Nankya, the secretary for the Editor’s Guild.
According to Nankya, the editors’ body will seek legal advice on how to prosecute the breaches on journalism practice with a view of taking action against perpetrators.
“We are calling upon security chiefs, particularly the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi to rein in the men and officers under their command and to publicly condemn the attacks against journalists.
This is not the first time journalists are attacked by security personnel while in the line of duty.
On several occasions, journalists have been beaten, arrested and equipment confiscated or broken but on all occasions, the perpetrators have never been brought to book.
On Wednesday, the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso said journalists assaulted a military police officer leading to the brutality meted out on them but according to video recordings at the scene and eyewitnesses, no officer was assaulted.