African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Uganda: Police; stop this press brutality (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on May 3, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source:TheMonitor.ug

The crude and brutal manner in which journalists continue to be arrested by the State in Uganda is quite pathetic and must be condemned.

On Saturday morning, intelligence personnel and police raided the offices of The Independent newsmagazine in Kamwokya and arrested Managing Editor Andrew Mwenda and Consulting Editor Odoobo Bichachi for alleged sedition. Sunday Monitor photojournalist Joseph Kiggundu, who was taking pictures of the raid on The Independent offices, was not spared either. He was manhandled, beaten up, blindfolded and driven away in a very humiliating manner.

The security personnel first raided Mwendas home in Kololo in search of seditious material. He was manhandled, handcuffed and bundled into a security car. If there was reasonable ground to suggest that the magazine had committed an offence within the provisions of the law, there are clear legal procedures on how the journalists can be handled. In a civilised, democratic and free country, the police do not manhandle and handcuff journalists as if they are highway robbers or hardcore street criminals.

They are, at worst, summoned to police and later charged in court. This brutality was not just directed at The Independent but the press in general. The government must desist from such brutality and learn civilised ways of handling journalists through the law. In Uganda today, its increasingly becoming difficult to write or publish a story severely critical of the State or its gurus without standing the risk of being arrested or summoned to CID. The freedom of the press is rapidly getting stifled and (if this trend continues) will ultimately be irreversibly suffocated.

Several editors of the independent press such as Daily Monitor and Weekly Observer are already making endless trips to CID headquarters and court for interrogation or trial on diverse charges ranging from sedition to promoting sectarianism. The raid on The Independent is a sufficient red flag for what lies ahead for the press in Uganda. All lovers of press freedom must come together to condemn such callous brutality of the police against harmless journalists.

As we mark the Press Freedom Day on May 3, these are the issues we must reflect upon. But above all we must collectively condemn continued police brutality against press liberty, not only in Uganda but all over the world.

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African Press International – api

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