Kampala, 06th/April/2012; A photo-journalist for The Observer newspaper and Reuters Edward Echwalu has petitioned the police’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU) seeking for punishment of police officers who assaulted him while he was covering activities and the arrest of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change leader Dr. Kizza Besigye.
Echwalu along with Luswa Anatoli of Eddoboozi newspaper were separately beaten by police men in police uniforms as they covered the arrest of Besigye and other opposition leaders in Kampala on the 21st/March/2012. Echwalu accuses four police men of beating him with batons and rifle butt at Kira Road police station in Kampala as he unpacked his camera to take photographs. On the same day, police also roughed up a human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi and blocked him from accessing his clients at the Central Police Station (CPS).
The police were arresting opposition politicians including the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, Kampala woman member of parliament Nabbilah Naggayi and Lord mayor Erias Lukwago and FDC women league leader Ingrid Turinawe among others. During the chaos as police engaged the Besigye supporters by firing tear gas and some demonstrators retaliated with stone throwing, an Assistant Inspector of Police John Bosco Ariong was critically injured, bled profusely and later died of the head injury.
Echwalu was accompanied by a group of foreign journalists to PSU in Bukoto –a suburb of Kampala. He met the PSU commandant, Commissioner Kyomukama Samwel and Sserwanga Francis who promised to investigate the matter and report back within three weeks.
“I provided the PSU with photographic evidence of the men who attacked me and some other violent acts these police men were involved in that day. Kyomukama assured us that the three police men in question would be arrested and investigated and possibly disciplined within a maximum period of three weeks.” Echwalu told HRNJ-Uganda.
The police have assaulted a total of six journalists in Kampala in a space of seven days. They were all involved in covering activities related to the opposition politicians.
“HRNJ-Uganda would like to commend the fellow journalists, civil society and other human rights activists both local and international who have come to the defence of victim journalists at the hands police’s brutality. These targeted attacks on the media should stop. So the PSU is charged with a huge challenge of taking action against its very own officers. Some cases have taken too long pending conclusively investigation by the PSU. We hope that this time, it is going to be a different situation.” said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.
He added that, “The police force leadership should realize the urgent need of restraining its officers from violently attacking the journalists and the media who cover opposition related activities. This is a direct attack on the media which should not go unabated.”
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