We highly condemn the brutal actions that were meted out against journalists who covered the by-elections of the Bukedea District Local Council (LC5) and consequently the confiscation of their gadgets.
While journalists must at all times be able to cover functions and events, including political events like elections, they have been victims of election violation and abuse in Uganda majorly at the hands of the security forces who are mandated to safeguard them while on duty.
The journalists were attacked while covering the distribution of voting materials for the by-elections and their gadgets ruthlessly confiscated.
The affected journalists included Eddy Enuru a correspondent for NBS TV, George Muron a correspondent for Daily Monitor and reporter at Mama Bukedea FM and John Bosco Ojojo of Continental FM.
Eddy was covering the distribution of voting materials at Township Primary School polling station when he received a tip that some voting materials that had been delivered were tampered with. He was attacked by plain-clothed men who physically assaulted him bruising his neck. They also confiscated his camera and damaged his mobile phone in the full glare of electoral officials and security people in uniform.
The gadgets of George Muron and John Bosco Ojojo were confiscated by unknown men riding on a motorbike as they left Tamula polling station in Bukedea Town Council
The Bukedea LC5 by-election was a result of the death of Moses Olemukan in December 2022. The by-election is alleged to have been marred by ballot stuffing, intimidation, and violence.
Candidates in the race include; Mary Akol for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) who was declared the winner of the race, Tychicus Lokwiisk an independent, and Sam Oita of the Forum for Democrat Change (FDC) who later pulled out of the race citing massive electoral malpractices.
The FDC party President Patrick Amuriat Oboi and the NRM Electoral Commission Chairman Dr. Tanga Freddrick Odoi have come out to condemn the harassment and intimidation of journalists who were covering the elections. “As FDC, we condemn the intimidation, torture and imprisonment of media practitioners in their line of duty while covering this election,” Amuriat said.
HRNJ-Uganda has since extended medical and legal support to some of the victim journalists.
We call on the security forces, the Electoral Commission, and the candidates together with their supporters to ensure the safety and security of journalists covering elections. We also call on the leadership of the various security forces, mainly the police and army to take action against their officers who are implicated in violating the said journalists’ rights.