Two journalists, Abubaker Lubowa of the Daily Monitor and Mutebi Robert of Salt Media were on the morning of 29th June, 2016 assaulted by police officers at Spear Motors in Kampala while covering the arrest of Ingrid Turinawe, the secretary for mobilization of the opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change and her driver.
The duo was returning from attending a treason case against a former FDC Presidential candidate, Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye at the Nakawa Magistrates Court.
Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda that he was assaulted by a female police officer, one Pamela Agudo, who he accused of targeting his private parts.
“I was hit by two police officers; one of the lady officers targeted my private parts which she hit it with a baton. This forced me to retreat because I was feeling a lot of pain,” Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda.
Mutebi was assaulted along with Lubowa, “Abu was hit in the knees with a baton; I don’t know whether he can walk because he was hit seriously.” When contacted, Lubowa told HRNJ-Uganda that he was forced to hold the police officer’s baton in self-defence.
The ugly scene prompted a group of about thirty (30) journalists to match in solidarity and camp at the Kampala East Metropolitan Police, commanded by Siraje Bakaleke to demand for action against the two errant police officers.
It took over an hour as the journalists pitched camp at the Jinja Road station before Bakaleke together with the CID Chief could order for the production of the suspects who according to police had been detained at Naguru police headquarters.
Only Pamela Agudo was produced and made to apologize to the journalists; she promised not to do it again. The journalists forgave her and decided not to pursue the matter any further.
“The journalists were assaulted, they were able to identify the officers and one of them was, Woman Constable Pamela Agudo. She was made to apologise to the journalists. We have internal disciplinary action against such police officers but the journalists discouraged us from doing it after accepting the apology,” Bakaleke told HRNJ-Uganda.
“We highly condemn the continued actions by the Uganda Police Force of assaulting journalists while executing their duties of covering news –especially related to the opposition. We are glad that the journalists took a bold step of demanding for their rights, which prompted the police officer to apologise. Police must ensure the safety and security of media practitioners on duty,” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala.