By Andrew Irumba
The International Press Community, through the global journalists body Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda (FCAU), have blamed the government of Uganda, the police and military for unleashing wanton violence unto journalists who went to to Makerere to cover protests by students against the 15 % tuition increment.
Disturbing pictures and footage of police and military brutalising journalists and students of Makerere University have been circulating on social media since last week, when the protests began.
Currently, no journalist is allowed to cover, film, record and disseminate any information, pictures or footage at Makerere University without being clobbered by police.
However, a statement released Tuesday October 29, 2019 by the AFP vehemently condemns such acts of gross human rights abuse and call upon security forces to observe the freedoms and rights of journalists.
The AFP statement reads in part thus; ” The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda condemns the arrest and intimidation of journalists covering the ongoing protests at Makerere University and calls for journalists to be allowed to access the University campus to do their work.
Three journalists were teargassed and detained by police while working at Makerere University on Thursday. Isaac Mumena of the BBC, Chris Ssemakula of BBS and Lawrence Kitatta of Bukedde, were detained.
A witness also described a policeman slapping one of the reporters. They were released soon afterwords but with warning from police that any journalist, or anyone else without a student ID accessing the campus would be charged with terrorism.”
The statement adds that “Earlier in the day, police snatched the camera of NBS journalist Canary Mugume as he was reporting live on events in Makerere. Thursday’s events followed overnight raids by security forces on campus.
Last week, around fifteen journalists who were covering a press conference called by students were teargassed and beaten by police and forced off campus. The reporters say security personnel demanded that they delete material of students with disabilities being arrested, and brutal attempts to arrest a URN journalist.”
The same statement continues that “Education Minister and First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni has today released a statement regarding events at Makerere, which also targets foreign journalists in Uganda, saying they are being paid by ‘Unknown’ sources to tell lies
.The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda calls for a stop to the targeting of journalists by the Ugandan authorities and security forces, and for an end to the assault, arrest and intimidation of reporters for doing their work. We call for journalists to be allowed to report on the news at Makerere University and to to be able to access the campus in order to do so.”