KAMPALA– As independent global media rights body, Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) petitions government to immediately drop charges of incitement and malicious damage to property against journalists, two others have been arrested as they covered protests in Kampala
Policemen and Military Police have Monday afternoon arrested two NTV journalists Juma Kiirya and Ronald Galiwango and taken them to an unknown destination.
Last week in Arua, Herbert Zziwa and Ronald Muwanga were arrested and assaulted by security personnel believed to be presidential guards, Special Forces Command (SFC) on August 13 while covering violent clashes in Arua ahead of the parliamentary seat by-election.
Zziwa and Muwanga were detained overnight and charged on August 14 with inciting violence and malicious damage to property before they were released on police bond.
The attack on journalists seems not to end as President Yoweri Museveni has continually accused media houses of reporting fake news on his government.
In a statement issued Sunday, Mr Museveni attacked NTV and Daily Monitor all belonging to Nation Media group over biased reporting.
“Some days have gone by while what President Trump calls “fake news” generators, especially the Monitor and their TV, the NTV, have been putting it out that our grandson, the indisciplined Bobi Wine, is gravely ill, he cannot talk etc.” Museveni said.
Also on Monday last, security personnel assaulted and harassed Julius Bakabaage, John Kibalizi, and Benson Ongom, journalists of NBS TV who were also reporting live the shooting of Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi’s driver, Yasin Kawuma.
“Journalists reporting in crisis zones should do so without fear that the security personnel that are supposed to look out for their safety will turn on them and assault them. The charges brought against Herbert Zziwa and Ronald Muwanga are also groundless, suggesting that authorities are trying to legitimize the arrest and assault of these journalists,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan African representative, Muthoki Mumo.
CPJ also noted that Ugandan authorities should immediately drop the charges and ensure those responsible for violence against journalists are held accountable.
Last week international media umbrella organisation of journalists working in Uganda for foreign and international news-media slammed government over the brutal treatment of journalists caught up in Monday’s electoral violence in Arua at the hands of security agencies.
Although the three journalists managed to get away from the soldiers, their equipment, including a camera and a tripod, were confiscated. They recovered the equipment from Arua central police station that evening, according to Bakabaage and Ongom.
Military spokesperson Richard Karemire said it was regrettable that the journalists had been “caught up in this fracas.” He but said that the military would investigate any formal complaints filed with them.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima told CPJ that journalists were not specifically targeted in Arua.
He said that “all issues would be looked at and sorted” though he said he could not commit on whether the case against the two NTV Uganda journalists would be dropped. He did not respond to CPJ’s question about whether police had used Zziwa’s confiscated phone to call other journalists.