Uganda: Police must be held accountable for brutality against journalists
22 Mar 2012
ARTICLE 19 condemns the recent brutal attacks against two journalists Edward Echwalu and Anatoli Luswata in separate incidents outside two police stations. We call for a serious and thorough investigation to prosecute the officers behind these atrocious acts.
According to Echwalu, a photographer for Reuters and the Independent Observer, four officers using gun butts and batons repeatedly beat him on the 21 March 2012 outside Kira Road Police Station allegedly for taking pictures of the arrest of Dr. Kizza Besigye, an opposition leader. In a separate incident, police officers also attacked Luswata outside Kampala’s Central Police Station and beat him on his back with batons. Both journalists were trying to cover the arrest of Besigye and attempts by police to transfer him between police stations. An unknown number of opposition supporters were incarcerated after their attempts to demonstrate against police brutality turned into clashes where it is reported one police officer died.
“This act of heinous brutality is utterly shocking and a confirmation of Uganda’s cavalier approach to its international obligations to protect of freedom of expression and press freedom. It comes only five days after Uganda, a member of the Human Rights Council, voluntarily accepted and promised to implement 125 of the 171 recommendations made in the course of its first review held on the 11th October 2011,” , said Henry Maina, Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
Among the recommendations Uganda promised to implement include a guarantee of freedom of expression, particularly the possibility of expressing criticism and opinion regarding acts of the government; training security officers to respect freedom of expression and assembly; assuring full respect of freedom of association and peaceful assembly and punishing all excessive use of force by security officers against peaceful demonstrators and journalists; and an end to intimidation, threats and physical attacks on journalists and promotion of open reporting and commentary on issues of public concern.
ARTICLE 19 calls for the immediate investigation of the attacks, including prompt identification of perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The Government must take all possible measures to prevent attacks and harassment of journalists in Uganda due to their hindrance to press freedom. According to ARTICLE 19’s partner, the Human Rights Network of Journalists, there were over 107 cases of attacks against journalists in 2011, and increase from 58 cases in 2010 and 39 in the year 2009. Most of the attacks were reportedly made by security agents during the last general election campaigns or the walk-to-work demonstrations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- For more media interviews please contact: Henry O. Maina, Director ARTICLE 19 EASTERN AFRICA on Email:email@example.com or call on +254 (20) 3862230/2
- Earlier Press Release: Uganda Rejects Human Rights Council Recommendations
- See Previous PR: UN Member States Corner Uganda over Human Rights
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