Kampala, Uganda | THE IDEPENDENT | The President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Eng Patrick Oboi Amuriat has apologized to journalists who were assaulted by members at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi.
On Thursday, the journalists were invited to attend a press briefing by the party National Chairman Wasswa Birigwa at 11am but were denied entrance. Birigwa was able to force himself in alone while journalists and other party members were denied access.
After 1pm some party members started banging on the gate demanding to be opened, but about ten men emerged from the offices and started assaulting people including journalists, whose property especially phones were taken.
Some of the journalists who were assaulted included Urban TV intern Rachel Ainembazi, Radio Sapientia journalist Charles Katabalwa, CBS’s Joseph Balikuddembe, and George William Katoloba from Namirembe fm. The chaos happened when Amuriat was at the headquarters.
The chaos caused a backlash with journalists demanding an apology from the party, action taken against the youth, and compensation for the victims.
In a statement, Amuriat acknowledged that some of their party members assaulted journalists and apologized for it.
“We deeply apologizeto all the journalists who were hurt during this incident. We have and shall always recognize journalists as one of our great allies in the struggle for democracy, and we acknowledge their invaluable role in informing the public and holding us leaders accountable” wrote Amuriat.
He committed to taking immediate and decisive action to address the situation, adding that the party has launched an in-depth investigation into the matter and that the individuals responsible for the violence will be accountable.
“Moving forward, we will be managing incidences that may lead to such uncalled-for acts from occurring in the future” reads the statement in part.
The Uganda Journalist Association (UJA) in a statement issued following the attacks described the violence meted on journalists as not only criminal but a clear violation of press freedom provided for under the Constitution of Uganda.
“We therefore strongly condemn such attacks on press freedom and demand that the suspects be brought to book immediately. We also demand the immediate return of all stolen journalists’ property,” wrote UJA President Mathias Rukundo.
He said that the association has instructed its legal team to urgently embark on the process of pursuing justice for all affected journalists through appropriate legal means.
In another statement, journalist Gabriel Buule condemned the violence meted on journalists and on behalf of the media fraternity demanded an apology and explanation from the party leadership. He also asked journalists to stay away from any event organized at the FDC party headquarters until they respond to demands of the journalists following Thursday’s incident.