By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: Following continuous deadly and brutal attacks on journalists by security personnel while on duty, trailing various presidential candidates, Independent Online Journalists Association-Uganda (indoja-U), an umbrella body for online broadcasters has joined other organizations and individual members of the public to condemn the high level of unprofessionalism exhibited by security organs of the state while handling riots previously.
According to a statement dated November, 19, 2020, signed by the organization’s President Andrew Irumba Katusabe, security personnel have been intetionally targeting mainly journalists attached to opposition presidential candidates forgetting that covering their campaigns is a fair game just like others are deployed to cover President Museveni but also forgetting that Journalist’s primary role is to inform the public without bias.
“We’re concerned that security personnel are INTENTIONALLY targeting, mainly journalists attached to opposition presidential candidates (atleast by close of yesterday we hadn’t registered a single case with journalists attached to the incumbent),” Irumba noted.
Read Indoja’s Full Statement Below;
“RE: CONTINUED VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS OF JOURNALISTS COVERING OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES BY
UGANDA’S SECURITY PERSONNEL
Independent Online Journalists Association-Uganda (indoja-U) has noted with concern the high handedness, in violence and wanton
brutality meted on journalists by state security agents, while covering the protests that started on Wednesday November,18, 2020.
Very worrying also, is the fact that some of the perpetuators of these unconstitutional acts commit them while plain clothed, partly, to evade being identified for accountability at some time.
We’re concerned that security personnel are INTENTIONALLY targeting, mainly journalists attached to opposition presidential candidates (atleast by close of yesterday we hadn’t registered a single case with journalists attached to the incumbent).
Journalists Ashraf Kasirye and Sam Balikowa working with Ghetto TV and Nile TV/City Fm in Jinja respectively, while covering NUP’s
presidential candidate, also Kyadondo East MP Hon.Ssentamu Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine in Luuka District on Wednesday, were violently teargassed before they were brutally arrested, reportedly for covering the ugly scenes of the protests.
We’re also alive to the fact that even the journalists’ equipments are being targeted in order to destroy footage. In Lira, NBS TV crew that was trailing Bobi Wine was attacked, their well branded van vandalized and equipment including camera, laptop and phones among others, damaged or stolen. Also, those trailing FDC candidate Patrick Oboi Amuriat have reported similar incidents.
We believe these are deliberate acts aimed at curtailing our professional and constitutional mandate of keeping the public informed about anything and everything, without fear or favor.
indoja-U, an association that brings together online media in Uganda takes this as a serious attack on the independence and freedoms of expression, not only against the media fraternity, but the general public at large.
Security is here by reminded that journalists shoulder a pivotal role and social contract with the public, to collect, filter and then feed them with information, for the greater good. Because we all know, that an informed society is an empowered society.
On behalf of all the media fraternity in Uganda, we would like to appeal to all security agencies in Uganda to respect the Rights and
Freedoms not only of the press, but those of all Ugandans. We condemn the manner in which the security personnel handled the whole matter. We could have saved those 16 lives that have since died in the hands of those mandated to protect them.
Finally, we appeal to special Investigations Unit (SIU) leadership in Kireka to unconditionally release Mr.Tonny Lule, a journalist with Vision Group who has been in illegal detention for a week now, over cyber crime allegations against the first family. Don’t Agonize,Organize!”
Meanwhile, by the time we went to press, fresh information came in indicating that the number of people who have been shot dead following Bobi Wine arrest riots had shot up to 40, up from 16, and those in detention are more than 400 country wide.