Members of Parliament representing workers have challenged security organs on brutalizing journalists as they cover riots following this weeks incident in which reporters were beaten by soldiers of the UPDF in Kampala.
The legislators are demanding compensation to those whose gadgets were destroyed in Monday’s riots protesting the detention of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi.
James Akena, a photojournalist working with Reuters news agency was severally beaten by soldiers and his camera destroyed before he was arrested. Two other NTV journalists Ronald Galiwango and Juma Kirya and a photojournalist with Observer identified as Alfred Ocwo were also brutalized.
Now, MPs led by Margret Rwabushaija and Agnes Kunihira, together with other activist MPs, David Abala and Kasambya County MP, Mbwatekamwa Gafa have said that the nasty images that came out as security forces harassed journalists leave a lot to desire.
Rwabushaija said that journalists are professional workers whose duty is to inform the public therefore beating them and destroying their equipment is violating their working rights.
She added that the government should instead focus on finding ways of ending riots in the country, not resorting to brutalizing the press who are doing their work disseminating information to Ugandans about what is happening in the country.
“We watched with dismay the brutal manner in which our security forces descended on our members such as James Akena, Herbert Ziwa, Ronald Galiwango among others and battered them senselessly while covering the recent riots in the city and Arua arising out of the arrest of Members of Parliament,” said Rwabushaija.
“Journalists are not the cause of the riots and brutalizing them will not solve the underlying causes of the riots in the country”.
“We wish to call upon government to address the root cause of the disturbances,” Rwabushaija said.
On her part, Agnes Kunihira said that journalists belong to the Trade Union Movement and “it is our duty as their elected representatives in Parliament to protect and promote a healthy and secure environment in which they can practice their trade in peace within the country”.
Agnes Kunihira noted that despite the apologies from the armed forces, government still needs to do more to ensure that they offer medical treatment to those that were affected as well as compensating them of any damaged equipment.
Kasambya county legislator, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa said that in case security agencies continue to mistreat journalists, they will be left with no option but mobilize them to boycott all state functions.