Ugandan journalists slap a boycott on government activities over deteriorating press freedom
Kampala, 12th/May/2011, Ugandan journalists have slapped a boycott on government activities over the 14 journalists who were physically attacked while covering the return of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye. More than a dozen of journalists have been physically attacked including being shot, intimidated, arbitrarily arrested and detained, restrictions imposed on their movements and assaulted since the ‘Walk to Work’ campaign begun
The Walk to Work campaign is an initiative of opposition political parties and activists protesting high fuel and commodity prices.
In the media stakeholders’ crisis meeting organized by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) at Grand Imperial hotel Kampala, journalists under their six organizations condemned the increasing violence against frontline journalists on duty by security apparatus
Article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
Organizations namely; Uganda News Paper Publishers’ and Editors Association, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, Uganda Journalists Association, Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, Uganda Media Development Foundation and Editors’ Forum unanimously agreed that the right to press freedom and freedom of expression were under attack.
Journalists observed that attacks are systematic which are intended to destroy evidence of abuses committed by military police against civilians and majority journalists were barred from accessing Entebbe International Airport on both 11th and 12th/May/2011.
Mulindwa Mukasa a reporter with Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS) TV is one of the victims who sustained injuries on his left arm. He testified that he was assaulted before his camera was forcefully confiscated while filming anti riot and military police dispersing Dr. Besigye’s supporters using live ammunition and tear-gas.
Several photojournalists’ equipments were confiscated by both military police and Uganda Police Force. These include, Joseph Mary Buule a reporter with a state owned television Uganda Broadcasting Service (UBC), Stephen Otage a photojournalist with the Daily Monitor, a freelance journalist Francis Tumwekwasize, Ayebare Allan a photojournalist with the Razor new paper, Michael Kakumirizi a photojournalist with the Red pepper. He sustained a big cut on his head, Eddie Ssejjoba a photo journalists with the New Vision, Robert Mutebi a photojournalist with Bukedde News Paper and Luswa Anatooli a photojournalist with Eddoboozi news paper
Other journalists who were assaulted are Mercy Nalugo a reporter with the Daily Monitor, Gideon Tugume a reporter with Capital fm, Simon Njala Kagwa a reporter with radio One, Nasser Kayanja a reporter with radio Simba lost his recorder.
Journalists unanimously resolved to blackout all press conferences at government manned Uganda Media Center, activities of the police and the Uganda People’s Defence Force
Uganda Media Center is the government’s mouthpiece and organizes press conferences for all government departments.
Journalists are set to petition president Museveni on Monday the 16th/May/2011 demanding for immediate release of all journalists’ tools of trade and replacement of all damaged equipment’s.
Other demands include;
– Immediate investigation and prosecution of errant officers both in military police, Uganda Police Force and other security agencies
– An apology to the media fraternity and members of the public whose right to be informed and to know were infringed upon.
– An assurance from government that press freedom and freedom of expression will be enjoyed fully as per the Constitution, regional and international conventions and treaties