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HRNJ Uganda, Journalists protest police brutality, slap media blackout. (Demo)

Kampala, 13th January 2015; Cruelty against journalists recurred when police officers attached to Jinja Road Police Station intercepted and pepper-sprayed journalists who were peacefully walking to Police Headquarters at Naguru, a City suburb to petition the Inspector General of Police against the violent attacks on journalists by police officers. Through their umbrella body, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), they had earlier issued a press statement in Kampala, calling for a media black-out against the police force, until action is taken against errant police officers.

During the scuffle, the organization’s National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala and two other journalists were arrested and detained but released without any charges preferred against them after the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner Kampala Metropolitan Police Kasalawo Christopher. They later proceeded to Naguru where they met the Police Director of Operations, Felix Kaweesi to seek for urgent action against the brutal acts of Joram Mwesigye the Division Police Commander (DPC) of Old Kampala Police, station.

On the 12th of January 2015, Mwesigye assaulted and severely beat up a Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) Television cameraman Lwanga Andrew into coma, and tore the trousers of another journalist Ssettimba Joseph of Bukedde Television, a government owned station.

During the meeting, Kaweesi apologized and condemned the actions of Mwesigye, saying that they were personal and did not reflect the true image of the police force. He further told journalists that the IGP had ordered for Mwesigye’ immediate suspension, arrest and detention pending investigations into his said gross misconduct. He is currently being detained at the Central Police Station in Kampala. Kaweesi also regretted the incident that occurred at Jinja Road police station against journalists and vowed to take appropriate action.

A meeting between journalists and the Inspector General of Police has been scheduled for 15th January 2015, where a petition against police brutality towards journalists will be presented by HRNJ-Uganda. In the interim, a media blackout against the police will continue.

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