Arab Today, arab today amid assaults on press uganda police promise reforms
Last Updated : GMT 18:54:50
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Amid assaults on press, Uganda police promise reforms

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Amid assaults on press, Uganda police promise reforms

Nairobi - Arabstoday

Joseph Mutebi, a photojournalist for the popular vernacular state-owned daily Bukedde, spent his afternoon trying to file a complaint with the police in the capital, Kampala. "First they told me the officer who assaulted me was based at another station, so I went there and now they are telling me he is based at the police station where I originally went. So I am confused. I think they are just playing with me." Mutebi's case is not uncommon--both in terms of the constant threat journalists face from Uganda's police force and the challenges they encounter trying to file a complaint. Thursday, Mutebi had gone to cover a protest organized by the "boda-boda" drivers (Uganda's motorcycle taxis) outside Old Kampala Police Station along with several journalists from other media houses. "Once I took my camera out an officer came from behind and hit me twice with a baton," he told me. Why Mutebi was singled out from the rest of the press is a mystery to him. "I don't know, perhaps because I have been a crime reporter for the past eight years and they recognized me?" he said. After going to the hospital to receive treatment for the blows to his back, Mutebi is now undertaking another agonizing process: trying to get justice. There is some hope that justice may be more readily served in the future. Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura is forming a new press unit of police to act as an ombudsman for complaints by journalists and as a public relations department. "The inspector general is committed to professionalizing the police force," Simon Kuteesa, who will run the new unit, told me. "We are not re-inventing the wheel here--it's all part of a strategic initiative." The new unit is expected to be operational in three months, he said. Kuteesa is the former head of the police's media crimes unit, a division specially designed to monitor Uganda's press. Wokulira Ssebaggala, program coordinator for the Ugandan Human Rights Network for Journalists--an organization that documents and fights police attacks on the press on a weekly, if not daily, basis--is skeptical. "So the Media Crimes department, formerly run by Kuteesa, will continue to function alongside this new department...We are not optimistic about this but will wait and see," Ssebaggala said. There is certainly a need. According to CPJ research, the police were responsible in 25 cases last year of direct, physical attacks on journalists, none of which were punished. This year is not looking any better, with 10 cases already recorded by CPJ of police physically attacking the press. Mutebi believes the high number of assaults is due to the police force's lack of professionalism. "Some are not trained very well and often don't listen to their commanders, they just try to resolve everything with beating," he said. Even worse, their bosses rarely confront their officers over such attacks, Mutebi said. The police force's attitude toward the press is a problem, says Sula Mutebi (no relation to Joseph Mutebi), a cameraman for Bukedde TV, the sister broadcaster to the newspaper. "Political leaders see the press as activists. President [Yoweri] Museveni recently accused the press of being bribed so, whether right or wrong, we are seen as the opposition to authorities." A female police sergeant slapped Sula Mutebi and detained him at a police post for an hour and a half on Wednesday after he attempted to cover a story about a murder investigation in Nakasero Market, Kampala, he said. Ssebaggala takes Sula Mutebi's argument one step further. While police see the press as supporters of the opposition, Ssebaggala believes the police institution is compromised and supports individuals within the government. In May, for instance, police quizzed Nyombi Mahmoud, a presenter for private radio Pearl FM, for over two hours regarding a talk show he hosted that debated the level of Ugandan parliamentary democracy in comparison with other countries, the human rights network reported. Assistant Inspector of Police Byamugisha Jackson, who summoned and interrogated him, admitted that he did not see any reason for the investigation but was "acting on orders from above," the report said. The high number of police attacks against the press is also due to the political tension on Kampala's streets in recent years. Mass opposition rallies against rising fuel and commodity prices, known as "walk to work" campaigns, has placed the police in a tight spot, with little interest in media coverage of their actions. "Especially during demonstrations, individual journalists have been targeted as police try to kill the evidence of their own actions," Ssebaggala told me. Kuteesa said the assaults are an unfortunate by-product of a force handling a difficult situation. "Uganda is a young democracy," Kuteesa said. "People are trying to exert their rights and not everyone is rational--some resort to violence, especially in the city. The police are facing professional hazards and unfortunately people get injured here and there." Voice of America recently cited police spokesman Ibin Ssenkumbi as denying that abuse of journalists is widespread, and saying some journalists brought the problem upon themselves. "There have been a few instances where there have been clashes between a few individual journalists and police, especially during operations.  But that is not an institutional policy. We have also encountered some problems that some of our journalists are actually unprofessional. They want to have limitless powers and freedom in any place at any time, which, practically, is not possible," he said, VOA reported on Wednesday. Whether the new department represents a genuine effort to end attacks on the press with impunity or is simply a public relations exercise remains to be seen. Ugandan police attacked two journalists this week, just days after Inspector General Kayihura publicly apologized to the media for the excesses of some officers against the press and promised to investigate the cases, according to local reports. This is not the first apology from the Inspector General, who marched with journalists in an unexpected show of solidarity on World Press Freedom Day last month. "He can apologize today but tomorrow someone is beaten up," Ssebaggala said. While many local journalists are skeptical about the new police unit, Sula Mutebi is hopeful and thinks police attitudes are changing. "Actually the police wanted to press charges against the officer that assaulted me. For once I was invited to file a case, so it is an encouraging sign." CPJ .  

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today amid assaults on press uganda police promise reforms Arab Today, arab today amid assaults on press uganda police promise reforms


Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Fadi Kataya explains secrets of  Nancy Ajram's newlook
Arab Today, arab today Messi visit will contribute in tourism

GMT 14:04 2017 Friday ,24 February

Messi visit will contribute in tourism
Arab Today, arab today Expresses Algerian history by woody figures

GMT 13:26 2017 Friday ,24 February

Expresses Algerian history by woody figures
Arab Today, arab today Mental conflict endures

GMT 07:36 2017 Friday ,24 February

Mental conflict endures

GMT 17:31 2017 Friday ,10 February

Experts warn against negative effects of social media

GMT 10:48 2017 Friday ,10 February

News Corp swings to loss on write-downs

GMT 23:39 2017 Tuesday ,07 February

Editorial: Hopefully not a Franz Ferdinand moment

GMT 23:33 2017 Tuesday ,07 February

Editorial: Welcome back, Oman!

GMT 01:39 2017 Monday ,06 February

German magazine sparks furor
View News in Arabic - Media: صحافة
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Reading therapy relieves mental disorders

GMT 15:39 2017 Friday ,24 February

Reading therapy relieves mental disorders
Arab Today, arab today UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years

GMT 05:14 2017 Thursday ,23 February

UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years
Arab Today, arab today Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage

GMT 12:16 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today Tesla back into red but revenue grows

GMT 07:27 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Tesla back into red but revenue grows
Arab Today, arab today Nissan enhances sales in most markets

GMT 14:08 2017 Monday ,20 February

Nissan enhances sales in most markets
Arab Today, arab today Wafaa Amer is happy for Sherihan’s return

GMT 07:36 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Wafaa Amer is happy for Sherihan’s return
Arab Today, arab today Milan laughs while Rome cries

GMT 10:28 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Milan laughs while Rome cries

GMT 05:19 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Salma Rashid happy for 'A Whisper of Love'

GMT 12:35 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

63-Year-Old Woman Delivers Baby

GMT 22:42 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Nasima Gamei revives heritage in jewelries

GMT 15:53 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Small ponds have outsized impact

GMT 20:33 2017 Friday ,17 February

To release new antiques collection

GMT 07:51 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Mom's immune system accepts babies

GMT 09:59 2017 Monday ,20 February

Tourism shows signs of recovery

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 20:02 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Nohan Seyam designs beautiful accessories
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday