A Ugandan police officer, Constable Pamela Agudo, who assaulted two journalists has publicly apologised to her victims. The apology follows a march organised by 30 journalists to demand justice for their two assaulted colleagues.
On June 29, 2016, Pamela Agudo, together with an unidentified colleague beat up two journalists, Abubaker Lubowa who works with the Daily Monitor newspaper and Mutebi Robert of Salt Media. The unfortunate incident happened when the two were covering the arrest of the Chief Mobiliser of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Ingrid Turinawe, and her driver for disobeying police orders.
According to the AFEX member in Uganda, Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ-Uganda), Mutebi was assaulted by Pamela who reportedly hit his private part with a baton.
“I was hit by two police officers, one of the lady officers targeted my private parts which she hit with a baton. This forced me to retreat because I was feeling a lot of pain,” Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda.
Mutebi reported that Abubaker was also hit seriously and doubted if he could walk,
“Abu was hit in the knees with a baton; I don’t know whether he can walk because he was hit seriously”.
Standing in solidarity with their colleagues against the assault, the 30 journalists picketed at the premises of the Kampala East Metropolitan Police station to demand justice.
After an hour of picketing at the premises of the station, the Police Commander of the station, Siraje Bakeleke and other officers, kowtowed to pressure and brought one of the two culprits (who were reportedly in detention at the Naguru Police Headquarters for the assault), to apologise to the aggrieved journalists.
Pamela Agudo, subsequently apologised to her victims.
“I am here to apologise for assaulting journalists. I am sorry for what happened and I promise never to do it,” Pamela told the journalists.
Siraje Bakeleke, on his part assured the media fraternity that the Police administration will do their best to protect journalists working in the country.
AFEX commends the 30 journalists who stood in solidarity with their assaulted colleagues to demand remedial action from the police. We urge the journalists in Uganda to continue working together to fight for, and defend their rights at all times.
AFEX also commends the police administration for acting swiftly on the demands of the journalists, ensuring that Pamela rendered an apology to the journalists and also for assuring the journalists in Uganda that they will protect them.
We urge the police to keep to their word and ensure that journalists in the country are able to carry out their mandate in a safe environment.