In a quest to protect their rights, journalists in Uganda have said they will profile all security agents involved in acts of brutality against Ugandans, and publicize the identities in all media platforms available with an intention to expose and shame them.
According to Kazibwe Bashir the President of Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), move targets individual officers in security agencies following unheeded calls to the leadership of Police and the Army, for observance of press freedom and other rights which he say have been constantly ignored.
“We have already started compiling a list and photographs of security agents who have made it a habit to disrespect our rights, beating us whenever they find us. We are going to start publicizing their identities for everyone to know who these evil people are” said Kazibwe during a joint press conference between Uganda Journalists Association and Parliamentary Press held on Friday.
The move he said will help to expose the perpetrators of brutality for the public to know individual culprits’ identities and possibly isolate them. The move comes amidst a week-long media blackout on police activities which they say must continue until the leadership of police makes a commitment to end brutality against journalists.
“It is very disappointing that the police force has chosen to ignore our concerns! And you can’t believe that on the day we petitioned the IGP, some journalists were beaten up by police officers. it somehow indicates that brutality might have been institutionalized in the Police force.” Said Moses Mulondo, the President Parliamentary Press Association.
On Monday, Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) and the Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) petitioned the Inspector General of Police over continued police brutality against journalists but the petitioners say no response has been received yet.
“However, since the Uganda Police Force has a habit of taking long to respond to urgent issues including delay in releasing criminal investigation reports and emergencies, we are giving them up to Thursday next week to respond to the 8 points we highlighted in our petition.” Mr. Mulondo added.
The journalists said they have come up with new measures to deal with “their tormentors” which they are ready to unveil after expiry of the 6 day ultimatum set for police to respond.
They said they will exploit all possible measures to stop the brutality meted on journalists including taking legal action against perpetrators of human rights violations. They two leaders also thanked media houses that have observed the blackout on police activities and urged them to maintain it until Police responds.
In their petition, journalists demand for prosecution of police officers involved in assaulting journalists, a directive from the IGP restraining police officers from assaulting journalists, compensation to victims of police brutality, and the IGP to commit himself on protection of Human rights of all Ugandans, as well as laying out a plan to redeem the image of police which they say has deteriorated.