KAMPALA – The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has protested the brutality and harassment of journalists by security agencies during the ongoing lockdown over coronavirus.
In an April 3, 2020, letter to Information Minister Judith Nabakooba, Mr Kin Kariisa, the NAB Chairperson, said it is difficult for the media houses to continue informing Ugandans about latest efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic when their staff are being harassed by security agencies.
“On the evening of the 2nd of April, 2020, a Vision Group journalist was attacked and beaten by security agencies in Mukono when returning home after work. In Ntungamo, a Nation Media Group journalist was beaten during the day while executing his duties, the Next Media team was arrested and harassed on their way back home after the evening news bulletins,” he said in the letter also copied to the Prime minister, the Chief of Defence Forces and Minister of Health.
“All this started with the Security Minister declaring that no one will be allowed to move during curfew hours, effective at 7:00 pm every day. It is difficult to see how the media can work with such orders because we are expected to broadcast LIVE His Excellency the President’s national address that happens at 8:00 pm of the times,” Kariisa added.
He also revealed added that the directive from the Security Minister has made their work difficult because all the major prime time broadcasts and newspaper printing happens beyond 7:00 pm and start before 6:30 am.
“If this kind of harassment and enforcement continues, the well-intended measures will lose public support, hamper the media’s efforts to convey the Coronavirus sensitization messages and defeat the whole purpose of the lockdown.”
On Thursday, Security minister Elly Tumwine said that journalists should start sleeping in the media houses to avoid being caught up by the curfew.
But Kariisa urged journalists not to give up on their duties and urged security forces to respect their rights and freedom to execute their duties even in the curfew hours.