Jinja, 12th February 2018; Army officers attached to Kimaka army barracks have on the 12th February 2018 beaten Ivan Lubega, a Jinja based journalist attached to Kiira Fm and Bukedde Tv. He sustained injuries on his right hand and his camera was destroyed in the process.
Lubega was covering a scuffle in Jinja that had ensued over land in Kimaka which is next to the Military barracks. This wrangle between army officers attached to Kimaka military barracks and the parents, teachers and pupils of Guardian Kimaka Primary school started at about 9:00am.
It is alleged that the said school is located on land belonging to the army. A letter was written to the Head Master Mr. James Muwaya to close business by the end of 2017. However, an interim court order was secured by the school on 2nd February 2018 ordering the army not to access the land until the final disposal of the matter.
When Lubega was contacted, he told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that while he and his colleagues Kanyere Hakim and Kintu Isaac of NBS and NTV respectively were covering the scuffle, suddenly army officers started chasing after them but his colleagues managed to escape. “Although I told the army officer that I am a journalist, he could not stop beating me…. he told me ‘toa kamera yako’ meaning, remove your camera. I sustained injuries on my right hand and my camera was destroyed,” Lubega told HRNJ-Uganda.
Lubega who filed a case of assault and malicious damage to property vide SD 30/12/02/18 at Jinja Central Police Station added that while at the police station, he met the army officer who was commanding the operation, a one Col Kihuta and he told him “The best you can do is to go back home and treat yourself because the army is part of the government and you cannot succeed in this case,” Kihuta told Lubega.
The Busoga sub region Army spokesperson Lieutenant Amos Nsamba told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that he was disappointed with the manner in which the journalists were handled. He added that he does not support acts of beating up journalists in the line of duty. He advised journalists to wear press jackets for easy identification.
“We condemn this act of violence against journalists and the response Col. Kihuta gave towards the assaulted Journalist. It’s wrong for the state agents to use their powers to influence the justice system. We implore the Uganda Police Forces to handle the matter professionally and timely so that the journalist gets justice.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala.