The journalism fraternity in Uganda is mourning the abrupt increase in brutalization, harassment and destruction of their tools by security agents during the ongoing presidential campaigns.
According to the Robert Ssempala, the coordinator of the Human Rights Network of Journalists – Uganda, the industry has never experienced a sudden uptick in violence targeting its members as has been experienced during the recent two weeks of the presidential campaign.
During Wednesday’s pro-Bobi riots in which more than 4 people were killed and over 40 injured, over 10 of those who escaped with injuries were Journalists.
Ssempala cited about 10 journalists, as being part of what he called an endless list of journalists covering opposition politicians, who have been deliberately brutalized by security agents.
“Journalists covering some presidential candidates are being targeted by security forces while in the line of duty,” said Ssempala.
The latest violations however only point to an escalation and worsening of the state-inspired-hatred targeting Journalists.
In many previous protests in Kampala and other parts of the country, journalists have been beaten in what appears to be a clear intention to force them to turn their eyes against the human rights violations committed by security agencies during those protests.
Gabriel Buule, one of the journalists who is nursing injuries sustained when the LDUs forced him to pick burning logs from the road even after he showed them a reporter’s card, told The Sunrise that.
Buule said: “The security guys don’t care whether you are a journalist or not. Showing a reporter’s card earns you even more hostility.”
Below are some of the few reported incidents of targeted attacks by security agents on journalists as recorded by Ssempala.
Saif-llah Senior Ashraf Kasirye of Radio One and an online TV was brutality assaulted and pepper sprayed by security including police and security while covering the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. He was admitted in very critical condition.
Another one, Sam Balikowa of City FM and Nile TV in Jinja was arrested for covering the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi live.
Tabs-a freelance photo journalist was being arrested but saved by his journalist colleagues.
Moses Bwayo sustained serious injuries on his cheek from allegedly a rubber bullet that hit him twhile conducting an interview with Bobi Wine a few days ago.
John Bosco Mwesigwa, , a news Editor, was fired from City FM accusing him of writing opposition stories, while NTV’s camera was confiscated while covering the free Bobi Wine protests in Kampala. The station reported bin it’s evening news bulletin Akawungeezi, that the camera had been returned but without a card.
A Vision Group journalist Tonny Lule is detained at SIU in Kireka for a week now over allegations of cyber harassment against the first family, among other cases involving the deliberated tear gassing of media branded vehicles. The list is endless.