A press statement by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso is all that journalists nursing injuries from Wednesday’s brutal attack by military police officers got to learn about the army’s attempt at dispensing justice.
In the statement, Brig. Byekwaso communicated that the military police unit disciplinary committee (UDC) which is a lower court of the court martial, had convened and deliberated on its officer and militants who misbehaved and assaulted journalists outside the offices of the UN Human Rights agency in Kololo, Kampala.
Surprisingly, none of the journalists that escaped with injuries was invited nor informed of the UDC’s sitting to try their tormentors.
“I haven’t left home today,” NBS TV’s Joseph Sabiti told The Witness, further saying that he only learnt of the trial on TV as the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen. David Muhoozi addressed a press conference.
New Vision’s Henry Ssekanjako was equally shocked to learn that the military had summarily tried and sentenced its officers without taking a statement from him or inviting any of the brutalized journalists to testify against the soldiers.
The UDC presided over by Lt. Col. Gai Mpandwa sentenced Capt Jessy Odwenyi to a three months jail term at Makindye military police barracks.
Corporal Justine Nimusiima was sentenced to severe reprimand and caution while Lance Corporal Kassim Zirimenya was handed a two months jail sentence.
Private Kisakye Victoria and Private Isaac Opiyo were sentenced to 62 and 60 days in the military prison respectively while the fate of their colleagues Privates Peter Wasswa and Imran Tsame is unknown.
The press statement does not state the particulars of the offences for which the soldiers were charged and whether they pleaded guilty or not.
“The chairman warned the culprits and the entire military police at large to always emulate discipline and professionalism while on any deployment. He also added that the above officer and militants will act as a deterrent measure to officers and militants while executing their constitutional mandate,” reads the press statement.
The developments came after Gen. Muhoozi during a televised press conference, apologised to journalists and promised to take action.
The CDF also promised to foot the medical bills of those affected and promised to have a symposium to brain storm with media on how to work together.
The UN rights body issued a statement on Wednesday criticising the conduct of the security forces saying that the actions of the Military Police officers outside its Kampala office as NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu presented a petition against human rights violations in Uganda.
“The United Nations in Uganda wishes to deplore that prior to the meeting, members of the Uganda Military Police used excessive force to prevent a number of persons accompanying the NUP delegation from accessing OHCHR premises. This behaviour contravenes the agreement with the Government of Uganda regarding the safety and security of UN premises, personnel and guests as well as national and international commitments,” the UN agency said in a statement.
NTV’s John Cliff Wamala was hit on the head causing a deep cut. Other journalists who escaped with injuries are, Joseph Sabiti and Josephine Namakumbi (NBS TV) Irene Abalo Otto (Daily Monitor), Timoth Murungi and Henry Ssekanjako (New Vision) and Amina Nalule among others.
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