A lawyer has dragged government to court over the continued battering o journalists by security agencies in the country, the latest being Military Police.
Last week, journalists who had gone to cover National Unity Platform’s Robert Kyagulanyi as he petitioned the United Commission for Human Rights(UNHCR) in Kololo were beaten and a number of them seriously injured .
In his suit filed before the civil division of the High Court in Kampala, lawyer Steven Kalali says that assaults on journalists by security agencies have become rampant and hence the need to be checked.
“Innocent and unarmed journalists while covering the story of the petition by Hon.Kyagulanyi Ssentamu on February 17, 2021 at Kololo were indiscriminately battered by armed military personnel. Upon the military police descending onto battering of journalists, many sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment at various medical centres,”Kalali says.
He mentions NBS Televisions’ Joseph Sabiiti, Josephine Namakumbi, Timothy Murungi and Henry Ssekanjako(both New Vision) and John Cliff Wamala of NTV as the latest victims of assaults on journalists by security agencies.
The lawyer argues that every trained journalist ought to have freedom to practice his trade and inform the public of what is happening in the country.
“There have been several violations of press freedom that have gone unchecked by courts of law. As a human rights activist who believes in the rule of law and in the sanctity of the Constitution, courts as guarantors of justice must enjoy public confidence by checking the impugned acts of the respondents(government) agencies towards journalists.”
The lawyer who says he brought the suit in his capacity as a human rights advocate avers that unless checked by court, the wanton actions of security agencies assaulting by members of the security agencies will continue.
“Court should issue a declaration that all adult and eligible accredited journalists or media houses in Uganda have a right to practice journalism without unjustified interference from government or its agencies,” the lawyer says in his suit.
“There should be a declaration that the continued acts of the respondent’s agencies including police and military personnel’s battering or attacking of unarmed journalists infringes on their right to practice their profession guaranteed under article 40(2) of the Constitution of Uganda.”
In the suit where the Attorney General has been listed as the respondent, the lawyer wants court to issue an order stopping security agencies from acting with impunity and malice to interfere with the rights of media practitioners and journalists in the peaceful pursuit of their works.