This Alert was originally published by HRNJ-Uganda on March 7, 2016.
Rowdy supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters on March 04, 2016 attacked seven journalists, destroyed their gadgets and deleted recorded material from the cameras. The journalists were covering elections for special interest groups at Entebbe in Wakiso district at the Mayor’s Gardens.
The victim journalists included, Ssebalamu Kigongo of Bukedde television, Diana Kibuuka and Kakooza George William both of CBS radio, Ssempijja Godfrey of Bukedde Newspaper, Ssebaggala Sunday of NBS television, Mugganga Evie of Radio One and Shanitah Nabwabye of Pearl of Africa radio. The journalists accuse the police and army for not taking action against stick-wielding attackers descended on the reporters.
The journalists implicated the president’s protection force –the Special Forces Command (SFC) of being behind the attack. They told HRNJ-Uganda that this is not the first time they have suffered at the hands of the NRM supporters, police and army in Entebbe, especially when covering election related activities.
“I was beaten by a group of six NRM supporters. They kept saying that they don’t want the media. They kicked me, boxed me, beat me with a stick on the head. When they came to confront me, I walked away very fast for fear of aggression, but they followed me and started the physical attack. They wanted to smash my video camera but I held on to it. This group is commanded by one Capt. Barbara Barungi and Mark Dan Kamugira of SFC group. Barbara always engages journalist in verbal attacks.” Kigongo told HRNJ-Uganda.
This information was corroborated by the other six (6) victim journalists, who also gave HRNJ-Uganda accounts of how they were attacked by the said mob which included men and women. The journalists have opened up cases of assault and malicious damage to property at the Entebbe Central Police.
“This systematic and targeted attack on journalists must stop. The police serve a duty to protect Ugandans and their property including journalists doing their work. Since the presidential elections, the Uganda police has been implicated in a number of attacks against journalists. This is a blatant violation of the Police Act and other attendant laws. The police should ensure the safety and security of journalists at all times, they should systematically investigate all cases of attack on journalists.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala