Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) has called upon President Museveni to desist from inciting security forces and the public against journalist by rather come out to defend them from attacks.
UPPA President, Isaac Imaka condemned the President’s continuous attack on the media which has put journalist’s lives at risk.
At least 3 journalists including James Akena, a photojournalist working with Reuters and two other reporters (Ronald Galiwango and Juma Kirya) were on Monday brutally arrested by security personnel, detained and forced to have camera footage deleted during the riots that have swept Kampala city centre.
“Barely a week after journalists were beaten and jailed in Arua, two of our members, Mr Ronald Galiwango and Mr Jumah Kiirya have been attacked by the police, beaten and briefly detained by security operatives,” Imaka noted.
Imaka said that it is so disturbing that the two are employees of NTV Uganda, a media House the President has consistently singled out as an enemy of the State.
“Apart from the two UPPA members, the State agencies also brutally arrested a Reuters photographer, James Akena while Mr Julius Muhumuza of Impact Media had his camera damaged,” Imaka said.
Imaka said that in a growing democracy, and especially in a country like Uganda where there are many competing ideas and political arguments, media remains the only platform that can inform and educate the public so that people can make informed decisions.
“When the media becomes a constant target by armed elements of the state, then, freedom of the press, a core tenet of democracy and political development is compromised”.
He said that President Museveni makes it worse when instead of calling for press freedom, singles out Nation Media Group journalists as being enemies of the State.
“Such statements from the Head of State only exposes the young journalists, most of whom have young families and are only struggling to make ends meet by professionally doing their job, to danger.”
“At UPPA, we ask that if the President has a bone to pick with the owners and Managers of Nation Media Group, he should directly handle the differences with them instead of exposing the young journalist foot soldiers to danger of an armed State while out in the field.”
He has asked security forces to treat journalists with dignity understanding that they are not in the field to riot but simply representatives of the public’s right to know.