By Mable Nakibuuka
The United States ambassador to Uganda H.E Natalie. E Brown has condemned the brutality against Ugandan journalists that was orchestrated by the police and military on Wednesday, when Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine had gone to petition the United Nations about human rights abuses in Uganda.
Journalists working with various media houses in Uganda who had gone to cover the handover of the petition at the United Nations Human had to scamper for their dear lives after the police and military clobbered many of them to pulp, purportedly in a bid to disperse them.
However, the United States ambassador to Uganda has since condemned the acts of brutality exhibited by the security forces, noting that journalists have a right to protection as they carry out their duties.
“Journalists should not be attacked for doing their job. Whenever assaulted, swift, public, transparent investigations must follow to ensure justice is served and to restore public trust,” H.E Natalie tweeted, adding that; “Those who violate press freedom must be held to account.
The U.S Bureau of African Affairs, under the U.S Department of State, also reiterated H.E Natalie’s condemnation of the brutality against journalists by tweeting thus; “Repeated abuses, including harassment of the media, civil society, and opposition figures and their supporters, by Ugandan security services must end.”
However, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) have since come out to regret the acts of brutality that were meted out unto Ugandan journalists after they were brutalized by the police and Military Police, although the same UPDF didn’t apologize for the brutality.
A seemingly unapologetic Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, who is the UPDF spokesperson, tweeted thus on Wednesday evening; “UPDF regrets that some journalists were injured as security carried out its duties. We maintain and will always respect our relationship with the media fraternity. UPDF further advises journalists on duty to always wear easily identifiable press jackets.”
In the same vein, the police were not apologetic at all about the brutality, but instead blamed Bobi Wine for disobeying lawful orders which had been given to him by the police which had allowed only three people to deliver the petition, only for him to turn up with a procession.
According to Police, Bobi Wine successfully submitted his petition to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights offices, located along Prince Charles Drive, Kololo in Kampala, but he breached the COVID-19 regulations of not holding processions.
The police also disclosed that the petitioner was scheduled to appear with only three other members due to the anti-COVID-19 but he instead lead a procession.
“Bobi Wine however disregarded the guidelines and held an illegal procession and assembly involving boda-bodas, motor vehicles and supporters walking on foot,” Onyango said.
He added that; “Although we respect the rights of citizens to freely assemble and express themselves, the health and safety of all Ugandans and visitors, and rule of law remains our top priority.”
He noted as a reminder, that all unlawful rallies, assemblies and processions are still restricted under the health protocols in place.