Journalists under their umbrella body “Uganda Journalists Association-UJA” on Monday beat the insurmountable odds to deliver their petition to police headquarters in Naguru.
Their march was first dispersed by police along Jinja Road leading to the arrest of UJA President Bashir Kazibwe and several other journalists.
They were detained at Central Police Station in Kampala before being later released. They still managed to deliver their petition as planned.
“A big thank you to the media fraternity, yes the statement has been made, journalists should be respected,” UJA said in a statement.
“Even after delivering the petition to the police authorities we still maintain the media blackout on all police activities. Its unfortunate that police even today continued with its violent acts against journalists during the peace procession to police headquarters.”
The statement said many have been badly brutalised and arrested including UJA Secretary General Mr. Bayola Moses who is still nursing injuries in the hospital.
Later, UJA Spokesperson Kabuye Ronald and Treasurer Issa Kigongo were hosted live on 107.9 Pearl fm 7-9pm while UJA secretary for Human rights and media safety Mukose Arnold Anthony was on 100.5 FM Bukedde from 7-8pm to discuss the state of the media working environment.
In their petition to Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola, journalists made eight key demands to police before they can lift the media blackout.
They asked the IGP to parade and publicly prosecute all police officers involved in assaulting journalists at Makerere University.
Ochola is also required to pass a directive to all police officers to with immediate effect stop assaulting journalists and interfering with their work.
To constitute a committee with lawyers and experts on human rights to develop well-researched strategic plan for deeming police’s image.
The leadership of police should provide for the compensation of journalists who were assaulted and their equipment damaged.
To issue a directive to overzealous police officers to stop the hate campaign against journalists.
To undertake measures to make police a professional state institution that is not only subordinate to civilian authority but also neutral (independent) and driven by public interest not politicians.
To undertake a deliberate policy to frequently educate and sensistize police officers on promoting and protecting rights of journalists and other Ugandans
Lastly, “if you (the IGP) are not ready to undertake the above recommendations and many other necessary measures to redeem the image of Uganda police force…we humbly ask you to resign…”