Ugandan Journalists Assaulted During Press Conferences
The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Ugandan authorities to investigate and punish individuals who recently attacked seven reporters at two press conferences. The media watchdog noted that attacks against reporters covering politics have become frequent in the country.
Six reporters were attacked by unidentified men while trying to attend a press conference of the chairman of Uganda's biggest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), local media said.
Chairman Wasswa Birigwa claimed he was held hostage at the party headquarters during an internal power struggle. About ten individuals believed to be his supporters arrived at the headquarters and demanded his release.
But then a group of his opponents arrived and started beating the first group and the journalists, and stealing their phones. Some of the reporters were punched and kicked and ended up with broken teeth and cut lips.
On the same day, another reporter who had tried to cover a meeting held by Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi in the eastern city of Soroti was attacked by a policeman who accused the press of harming the government's image through their coverage.
The officer slapped the hand of John Xerxes Ogulei, a reporter with the privately owned Teso Broadcasting Services, and knocked his phone and his tripod to the ground. The Human Rights Network for Journalists-Ugandatweeted a photo of the broken tripod.
"It is unacceptable that violence has become an everyday hazard for journalists on the political beat in Uganda," said CPJ's sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo.
He urged authorities to investigate and punish those responsible and compensate the victims.
FDC President Patrick Amuriat expressed regret over the incident and apologized to the journalists, and party communications official Norman Turyatemba said that the FDC party is investigating the incident and plans to replace the stolen phones and pay for the medical treatment.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said that investigations into the incident were ongoing, and police were analyzing CCTV footage and tracking stolen phones, but no arrests had been made.