Fort Portal; 21st/Jan/2011; Police in Fort Portal assaults a radio journalist over photographs.
Two police men attached to Fort Portal Central Police Station have assaulted a radio journalist, Mutegeki Geoffrey, 25, working with Voice of Tooro. He suffered the police wrath on Jan/17/2011 when he went to cover an impending students’ strike at Fort Portal School of Clinical Officers.
The school is found in Western Uganda.
The students had threatened to stage a strike over poor welfare and their demand for the transfer of the college’s principal.
Mutegeki was signing into the visitor’s book at the school’s main entrance when the police men suspected him of carrying a camera. They demanded that he deletes any photographs he could have taken.
“I reached at the news scene at around 2pm. As I was signing into the visitor’s book, a policeman mistook my cell phone for a camera; he then started demanding that I delete all the photographs in it. I told him that it was a cell phone not a camera but he went ahead to confiscate it” Mutegeki said.
He adds that as he was being accused of having taken photographs by one policeman, another one came from behind and clobbered his head twice and kicked his right leg.
Sources told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that Mutegeki, however, could not file a case of assault because the police in the area denied him access to Police Form3 when he went there for assistance. “They kept referring me from one police officer to another until I gave up on the matter.” Mutegeki told HRNJ-Uganda.
Police form three (3) is an official diagnosis document used by victims of assault.
HRNJ-Uganda learnt that the police had ignored the case until radios in the area publicized it.
“We received a call from the District Police Commander of Fort Portal, Joseph Kihamba who invited us to a meeting. He blamed us for having aired such negative stories against the police” a journalist who preferred not to be named told HRNJ-Uganda.
“This violent act was criminal and infringes on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and the media as enshrined in Uganda’s constitution.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda, Board Chairman Robert Ssempala
HRNJ-Uganda therefore demands that these errant officers be brought to book for their unprofessional behavior in the period possible failure HRNJ-Uganda will not hesitate to institute a private prosecution case.
The Fort portal District Police Commander Joseph Kihamba told HRNJ-Uganda that the case was being investigated and promised to have taken action by Monday 24th/Jan/2011.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627