Kampala, 04th/October/2012; the police have assaulted and shuttered cameras of two journalists as they covered the arrest of the opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye in Kampala
Daily Monitor’s photojournalist Isaac Kasamani told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he was slapped by one policeman while another held him by the neck from behind and pulled him down, damaging his photo camera.
“I was taking photos of Dr. Besigye as they brought him to CPS when a police officer in a blue uniform stood in front of me to obstruct me and ordered me to stop taking photos. As I pleaded, he slapped me hard on the left cheek with his right hand. As I protected my camera, another officer standing behind me grabbed my neck from behind and pulled me down. I fell and hurt my right elbow. My camera was shuttered beyond repair. I was also blocked from entering CPS to register a case of assault” Said Kasamani
Kasamani earlier reportedly survived a bullet allegedly aimed at him by police while covering walk to work demonstrations early this year. Police instituted an investigation which ruled out any possible shooting.
Another victim journalist, William Ntege a.k.a Kyuumakyayeesu told HRNJ-Uganda that he was pushed down the stairs of Central Police Station. He rolled down hurting his right leg and in the process his video camera was also shuttered.
Ntege told HRNJ-Uganda that he was filming Besigye’s arrest at CPS when he was pushed down the stairs.
“A police man ordered me to leave the place, but as I was explaining to him, another emerged and pushed me and I rolled down the stairs. My video camera was damaged beyond repair in the process. When I went to file a case at the same station, the officers turned me away saying I should return the next day. I cannot recognize the police officers since they had covered their heads.” He told HRNJ-Uganda.
Ntege was recently compensated for his two cameras damaged by the police as he covered opposition related stories. Ironically, the police destroyed the very camera which they compensated him for recently.
When contacted, the police deputy spokesperson, Vincent Ssekatte told HRNJ-Uganda that he did not have the facts yet.
“This is a total violation of media rights and freedom. These habitual acts of violence on media practitioners by the police are a clear indication that impunity is on the rise in this country. This incident must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.