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Uganda: Twenty journalists blocked from accessing City Hall as Kampala mayor impeached

Ugandan police train for riots at an air strip in Kampala, October 2011.
Ugandan police train for riots at an air strip in Kampala, October 2011.

Rory Mizen/Flickr

Police blocked close to 20 journalists from accessing the City Hall chambers during the stormy impeachment of the capital city's Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago. The journalists, from different media houses, engaged security officers to be allowed entrance in vein. No reason was given by the security agents manning City Hall.

Others who had been allowed in, were blocked from going back after going out when they followed the police roughing up a Councilor, Allan Ssewanyana, who had brought a court order into the Chamber, stopping the impeachment process.

“We were harassed. Once you got out of the chamber, you would not be allowed in again, they would only allow in those working for the government media. The security guys kept pushing us,” a CBS radio journalist, Fred Kasaato, told HRNJ-Uganda.

Another victim journalist, Godffrey Badebye of NTV Uganda told HRNJ-Uganda, “I was dressed in a NTV shirt with a logo, I was even on the media list of the day, but they blocked me from getting inside much as some of us had been allowed in before. They did not give us any reason, but only blocked us.”

“In the course of doing my work as a journalist, I tried to take pictures of the fracas when mean-looking security operatives guarding Musisi (Jenifer –the KCCA Executive Director) were manhandling Lukwago's lawyer, Abdallah Kiwanuka."

The victim journalists included Zziwa Herbert, Rose Namale, Ssenkandwa Julius, Solomon Lubambula, Joshua Mutale, Robert Mutebi, Nicholas Kajjoba, Moses Namayo, Kauka Ssonko, Evelyn Nakayongo, Aisha Nakawooya, Fred Kasaato, Jordan Mubangizi, Lydia Nabakooza, William Ntege, among others.

HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the denial of journalists access to news scenes, it is one of the worst forms of violation of media rights and freedoms employed by security agents. The state must protect and enable journalists to do their work irrespective of whether the matter involves members of the opposition or otherwise.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Political battle leads to arrests, other collateral damage for media

    “Preventing duly accredited journalists from covering public government proceedings is intolerable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The violent behaviour of the police and the police chief’s threats are unworthy of a democratic country."

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