The Uganda Editors’ Guild has condemned the police brutality meted out on journalists deployed to cover the ongoing Makerere University student protests against a 15 per cent tuition increment.
Formed early this year, the Guild, is an association of senior editors and content managers from several media houses and other industry players.
It aims at protecting media freedom and promote responsible journalism.
Alex Esagala, a photojournalist with Daily Monitor, Geoffrey Twesigye, a photographer NTV Uganda and Lawrence Kitata of Vision Group were this week hit with teargas canisters as they went about covering of the 10-day strike on Wednesday.
Security agencies had also earlier been reported to have restricted access and intimidated journalists from BBC, Bukedde TV and BBS.
“We call upon the Uganda Police Force and sister security agencies to respect the freedom of journalists to cover the protests as enshrined in the Ugandan Constitution and to avoid actions that compromise their individual safety, a statement signed by Daniel Kalinaki, the Interim Chairman and Sylvia Nankya, Interim Secretary reads in part.
“Journalists in the country are urged to keep reporting about topical issues professionally and to report any restrictions or threats made against them.”
The Editors Guild joins other bodies such as Human Rights Network for Journalists and Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) in condemning the brutal attacks.
The National Coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists, Mr Robert Ssempala said “The police is failing in its mandate..,” while UJA has called for ban on the coverage of police functions.
UJA President Hajji Kazibwe Bashir Mbazira announced an immediate total blackout on all police activities in press conference on Thursday.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango however instead blamed the journalists for being distant from police and getting caught up in the tear gas fire.
“We always advise journalists that in this kind of operation they should move near us because teargas does not discriminate,” Mr Onyango said.
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