Police assault journalists amid opposition rally in Ugandan elections

January 14, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Robert Ssewankambo

A high profile police commander in Uganda’s Moroto District, Goerge Obia, on January 10th assaulted four journalists, damaging a video camera and confiscating three others amidst threats to shoot them if they did not heed his orders.

The journalists, Galiwango Ronald of NTV, Kenneth Oryema of New Vision, Ernest Kyazze from the Bukedde newspaper and the Daily Monitor correspondent in Moroto, Julius Ariong, had all gone to Nadiket to follow up on reports that police had mounted a road block to allegedly block the opposition Forum for Democratic Change Presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye and his team from accessing his supporters through said road.

Ariong told press that Obia threatened to shoot them if they did not get out of the car they were travelling in. “I and my colleagues went there and found the road block with policemen. I called the Regional Police Commander to find out but he told me to go to his office for further information. As we were leaving, the District Police Commander, SSP George Obia came and told us (do) not get out or else he will shoot the vehicle. I came out of the vehicle and my colleague from NTV also came out with his camera. The DPC ordered him, “give me the camera if not I am going to destroy it.” “My colleague refused and Obia kicked the camera damaging it beyond repair,” Ariong told press. He said the DPC then descended on other journalists, confiscating their still cameras as he beat up the Bukedde journalist.

When contacted by a journalist from Kampala, Obia admitted to a scuffle with the journalists but denied damaging and confiscating their cameras. He said that the attack was as a result of the journalists’ refusal to hand over their cameras, “I said I need the camera, there is information I want. It is the journalist who handed over the camera to me and later said it was damaged.” He justified the attack on journalists for filming the movement of troops he had deployed to patrol the Nyasaru border post, “I ordered one of my men to stop them from filming as I went to see them. When I reached the scene, I told them you cannot just film the movement of troops, you don’t just film anyhow; you don’t know the purpose of this operation. I demanded the camera, which Galiwango refused so I grabbed it but he pulled it away from me and ran to their car,” the DPC said.

The police have been implicated in attacking journalists covering opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye in Gulu and Rhino Camp health center among other incidents elsewhere which have seen the police look on as politicians attack journalists.

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Ssewankambo

Robert Ssewankambo is a Ugandan writer. Working currently on a freelance basis, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers in Uganda and electronic online magazines and media sources in Africa, such as the Bukedde newspaper, Hindered radio, Red Pepper, Eddobozzi newspaper and African Interest online.

For media enquiries, contact Robert at the following email address: sewankamborobert@gmail.com

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