By Peter Ssebulime
Uganda Police have finally agreed to dialogue with journalists so as to resolve the misunderstanding that arose following repeated violence and brutal attacks on scribes by some police officers.
Several Journalists under two umbrella bodies;Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) led by president Bashir Kazibwe and the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) led by the President Moses Mulondo, matched to Naguru police headquarters today to present their petition against the brutal attacks but most of them were arrested and briefly detained at the Central Police Station Kampala, although they were later released, before they continued to Naguru.
While at the police headquarters, the journalists engaged in a closed meeting headed by Assistant Inspectors of Police (AIGPs); Hassan Kasingye, Asuman Mugenyi, and Abas Byakagaba, as well as the Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, while the scribes were led by Kazibwe, Mulondo, Francis Lubega and the coordinator of Human Rights, Journalists Network Robert Ssempala.
Journalists presented 8 points that police must address which include; the arrest, parading and prosecuting officers who abused the rights of journalists, constituting a committee to investigate all tortures committed against journalists, Compensate victims, issue directives to all police officers to stop confronting journalists while in their line of duties, educate police officers on the rights of press freedom and human rights, among others.
They also advised the police leadership to resign if the above demands aren’t fulfilled. However, the journalists maintained a ban on all police activities until all their demands are met.
However, since the IGP was not in office at the time, Kasingye said that they (police officers) will deliver the journalists’ petition to the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola, noting that in a democratic setting everyone has the right to be heard.
Last week, several journalists who were covering protests at Makerere University were brutalized by police officers among them Alex Esagala, a photojournalist with Daily Monitor and Geoffrey Twesigye, a photographer with NTV Uganda. Lawrence Kitata of Vision Group was arrested and detained at Makerere University Police Post for hours, while several other scribes escaped arrest with injuries.