Security agencies will continue to clobber journalists for the “sole purpose of deterring them from going where there is danger” and for that matter, the police leadership has no apologies for the journalists that have been brutalised by the police, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth-Ochola has said.
Addressing a joint election security and preparedness press briefing at the police headquarters, Ochola said he was unapologetic that journalists have been clobbered during their line of duty because they went where there was danger, contrary to police guidance.
Journalists, according to Ochola, often refuse to follow guidance by security forces, a reason they end up being beaten purposely for their own safety. Ochola said security forces do not target the media but fracas ensues when they fail to observe security guidance.
“What I am saying, when we tell a journalist do not go there and you insist that you are going there. We need you and you need us. We shall beat you for your own safety. We shall use reasonable force to ensure you do not go where there is a risk,” Ochola said.
Three journalists were injured by police in Lwengo District on December 27, 2020 as while on a campaign trail of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
Ashraf Kasirye, a Ghetto TV journalist, Ali Mivule of NTV and Daniel Lutaaya of NBS TV suffered the brunt of police brutality as the men in uniform moved to stop Kyagulanyi from proceeding to Lwengo district for his scheduled campaign meetings.
Kasirye is still fighting for his life at Lubaga hospital after undergoing head surgery as a result of a teargas canister that was fired at him and exploded on his head.
Ochola said several journalists have always portrayed the security agencies as being brutal. The IGP added that in some instances the media depict security agencies as they are against the government.
Deputy IGP Maj Gen Paul Lokech, said several journalists are covering election events without accreditation from the Media Council. Lokech urged journalists to cooperate with security agencies for their own safety.
AIGP Edward Osiru Ochom, who is police’s director for Operations, said police have arrested 17 activists on Kyagulanyi’s campaign trail putting on press jackets yet they have no known media house they are working for. Ochom blamed journalist for not denouncing activists posturing as journalists.
The joint briefing on election security and preparedness was attended by Internal Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo, Defence minister Adolf Mwesige, Deputy Land forces Commander Lt Gen Sam Kavuma and others.