Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The police foiled a procession by journalists who intended to match through the streets of Kampala to the Police headquarters in Naguru, to petition against increased police brutality against media practitioners.
The procession comprised personnel subscribing to Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) and Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ). It follows an offensive against journalists who were covering recent demonstrations in Makerere University.
Although the journalists had plotted to start their demonstration from the UMA conference hall at Lugogo, a group led by UJA president Bashir Kazibwe opted to start the procession from the railway grounds. They were however intercepted just after crossing the Jinja road traffic lights.
In the process, Kazibwe and journalist Damalie Mukhaye were arrested. Meanwhile, the other group of journalists led by UPPA President Moses Mulondo and HRNJ National Coordinator Robert Ssempala were blocked by anti-riot police while approaching the Police headquarters on grounds that the procession was illegal.
Fused by a human chain link, the group was asked to select four representatives to deliver the petition to the IGP. They settled for 10 after negotiating with the security.
While the 10 were selected, another group of journalists were bundled up in a police van and taken to Central Police Station, while the others were dispersed. They include KTV’s Siraje Kiberu and UPPA President Moses Mulondo.
But Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango said that no journalist had been arrested. Those who were in police custody were held as a security measure, he said.
In the aftermath, Mulondo said that the procession had been cleared by the Inspector General of Police, despite being blocked. He, however, added that police action will not deter them from fighting for press freedom.
Robert Ssempala also emphasized that police must meet the demands and stop abuse against media practitioners.