By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda |SHIFTMEDIA| Journalists have lashed out at police over its continued brutality and demanded an apology.
Police have continued to come under attack for its brutality against members of the fourth estate who are covering the presidential campaigns.
Speaking at this year’s anti-corruption convention held at the Royal Suites Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday, NBS news anchor, investigative journalist and BBC Kola Awards winner Solomon Serwanjja described the attacks on journalists in Uganda as “Bad manners”
“I watched as journalists were beaten, teargassed and slapped by police in Luuka. This was not called for. In fact it was bad manners and we (journalists) demand for an immediate apology from the police,” said Serwanjja.
Serwanjja was among the panelists speaking at the convention under the session “Immunity for crimes against journalists in the fight against corruption. (Investigative journalism as a tool for civic activism and social accountability).
Anti-corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), Transparency International Uganda (TIU), ActionAid and Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) facilitated the two day convention.
Serwanjja whose “stealing from the sick” won him the Kola Awards said very few journalists were ready to stop a bullet in the line of duty. “I will take a bullet to expose the corrupt in Uganda so that we can have a better future,” he said.
Emmanuel Mutaizibwa the Investigations Editor with NTV also took a swipe at the police for its brutality. “The way security agencies are brutalizing the media is un called for. But they need to be reminded that journalism is here to stay. Dictatorship will go, but journalism will always remain,” he said.
Arthur Oyako, the Communications Manager at Ant-Corruption Coalition Uganda said many journalists had either been killed, detained, injured or left maimed due to brutality imposed on them by security agencies,
He named the Reuters photographer James Akena who was clobbered by military as he covered the riots and is currently on a wheel chair.
Gilbert Sendugwa the Executive Director of Africa Freedom for Information Center (AFIC) journalists have a very special role to play in the fight against corruption, all they need is space. “It is sad that crimes against journalists are never investigated, and no action taken against the perpetrators,” said Sendugwa.
He said many journalists end up killed, injured and their content and equipment destroyed or confiscated in the line of duty.
“These are issues of concerns. Some media houses are ordered to discontinue services of their staff. But the moment there is no action against such perpetrators, then you cant stop their actions,” he said.
While responding to the attacks, Emilian Kayima the Acting Commissioner of Police for Information and Publication under the Chief Political Commissar (CPC) directorate said no news story is worth a journalists life.
Kayima who represented AIGP Asan Kasingye urged the journalists to stop having confrontations with the police.
“I personally have witnessed where some journalists confront the security agencies, telling them what to do. You come cover what you are supposed to cover and go away,” said Kayima. ‘Let the public judge, or go to court and allow the due process of justice take its course,” he added.
He said journalists have swayed away from their jobs and turned into activists.
“Some Journalists are fond of blackmail perhaps because they are not paid well. But as police, we don’t condone any attacks on the media. We have as police come in several times to provide protection for journalists when they are threatened by some corrupt officials they are pursuing,” he said.
He described investigative journalisms as a very “hard paper”. “You are getting in peoples space, and the corrupt who occupy these spaces are very wealthy, powerful and highly connected, so you are in a danger zone, they can kill or harm you,” he said.