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Government minister calls for investigation into police violence against journalists

Ugandan police arrest a journalist outside the Daily Monitor offices in Kampala, 29 May 2013
Ugandan police arrest a journalist outside the Daily Monitor offices in Kampala, 29 May 2013

AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie

This statement was originally published on on 15 February 2015.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, General Aronda Nyakairima, has ordered investigations into violations of media freedom and journalists' rights, and to release the reports to the public, in order to end impunity. He has also called for continuous dialogue between the media and key government institutions and departments.

This was during a three-hour meeting between journalists and General Aronda. Led by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, the meeting discussed the heightened brutality against journalists by security agents, especially police.

General Aronda commended the role played by the media as the fourth estate of government – observing that this critical role must be well-known to all government agencies, especially the armed forces. "The role of the media is a 'must know' not a 'should know' to all government bodies."

General Aronda committed to ensuring that there be regular structured meetings between the media and officials from the ministry of information and national guidance, the police, prisons, immigration, spokespersons of government departments and key media personalities. These meetings would help deliberate on the challenges being faced by the media, and would aim to improve the working environment.

In a 3-page petition handed over to the minister by the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala, journalists asked General Aronda to ensure that errant police officers face disciplinary measures. They called for errant police officers to be suspended from their offices of work, and discharged from the force as a way to counter wide-scale impunity. The journalists want the reports of such actions to be made public.

Lynn Najjemba, from Panos Eastern Africa, asked the minister to ensure that journalists are treated fairly, like other citizens of Uganda.

General Aronda instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr. Stephen Kagoda, to coordinate efforts aimed at having regular meetings and dialogue over the issues raised during the meeting.

After failing to meet the Inspector General of Police – General Kale Kayihura – over the increased brutality against journalists which saw the then Old Kampala DPC, Joram Mwesigye, beating journalists including WBS Television journalist, Andrew Lwanga, the media players sought out a meeting with General Aronda, who is the minister in charge of the police and prisons. The next meeting is slated for February 27, 2015.

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