Kampala, 12th/April/2012; A journalist with Pearl FM radio Mubiru Ali was assaulted by the District Police Commander (DPC) for Central Police station (CPS) in Kampala James Ruhweza while covering a news story, while Bahati Remmy of NBS TV was roughed by a group police officers inside CPS as they forced her out of the premises.
Mubiru was struck with a baton by James Ruhweza during a scuffle of police with Makerere University students who had converged at the Constitutional Square in the city Centre to launch a book, ‘Is this the fundamental change?’ The leader of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Dr. Kizza Besigye was to be the chief guest. Police blocked the activity saying that the place was not the suitable venue.
Mubiru was hit in the back as he recorded an exchange between police and the students. Four of the organizers of the function were arrested and rocked up at CPS.
He told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that at the time he was hit, he was recording an exchange between police and the students.
“I was holding an audio recorder and capturing the developments of an exchange between the police and students at the Constitutional Square when Ruhweza pushed us and hit me with a baton on my back; tearing my t-shirt. I was seriously bruised. I went to CPS to open up an assault case but was turned away when the police at the entrance said that the premise was out of bound to non-police people then.
Mubiru is Pearl FM radio’s specialized reporter on police and crime beats.
In a similar encounter, Bahati was circled by a group of policemen and woman as she stood still at the ground floor of CPS in a press jacket and her camera during a heavy down pour around midday. The police ordered all journalists to exit CPS as Besigye was got inside to ask why the police blocked the students function and arrested others.
“I heard an order for me to get out but before I could move an inch, a policewoman and another policeman started assaulting me, they were shortly joined by other policemen in police uniforms. They slapped and kicked me as they dragged me outside. I was saved by a white man from a group that offers technical help to the police force who confronted them decrying the act. The incident lasted for about three minutes.” Bahati told HRNJ-Uganda.
She quoted the group as asking her why the journalists continue giving Besigye popularity by according him media coverage and publicity.
She has since opened up an assault case file at the CPS. The officers at the desk first declined to handle the matter until she sought the intervention of the DPC Ruhweza James who ordered them to that effect.
Meanwhile another journalist Ronald Muhindo of Radio One/Two popularly known as Akaboozi survived arrest when fellow journalists engaged the police who had got hold of him and leading him to the waiting police van.
“The attacks on journalists are on the rise at the hands of the security. This poses a big danger to their lives. Some journalists have since abandoned taking up assignments which involve reporting news stories about the opposition politicians in Uganda. So we call upon the various stakeholders especially the police leadership to prevail upon the Uganda Police Force against criminalizing media coverage of particular activities! We also demand for thorough and prompt investigation into these attacks and appropriate action taken against the perpetrators.” Demanded the HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.
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