Media threatens boycott, demands IGP Ochola apology

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Daily Monitor photo journalist Abubaker Lubowa blocks a police officer from punching a fellow journalist at Police headquarters in Naguru, when journalists were barred from covering the Kirumira proceedings [Photo by Katumba Badru]

Media has resolved to boycott all police activities in protest of increasing harassment of journalists by police officers.

Robert Sempala, the coordinator of Uganda Human Rights Network for Journalists [HRNJ-U], says he has always thought things will work out in the future but this has let everyone down.

“A police blackout is very possible because we have support from the fraternity. We aren’t boycotting all police news, we are ignoring the public relation stories that cast them in good light,” he said on Monday morning.

He added: “We have enjoyed good support, until we receive an excellent apology from IGP Okoth Ochola’s leadership, we won’t end this. We expect his leadership to be very different from the previous leadership.”

Journalists by 19th April 2018 were already contemplating to take major steps against ongoing infringement of media freedoms by the police among which is a peaceful boycott of all police events.

This immanent move is in response to continued violation of their rights particularly in relation to denied access to news scenes by police and its affiliated agencies.

Many journalists were denied access to the premises of the police court where it was due to issue judgment against its officer Muhammed Kirumira the former DPC of Buyende police station.

A policeman grabs NBS journalist Kenneth Kazibwe

A number of them were assaulted at the venue by the guarding officers. This act by police and its officers is a continued pattern that has persisted and is an infringement of freedom of expression and information that is guaranteed in the constitution, said Ssempala.

While several options for addressing gross attacks by the police on journalists are being explored, we find an all-encompassing boycott of police activities will contribute to a self-reflection on the part of the police and will afford journalists with the due respect and uphold their constitutional rights.

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