Uganda security forces beat, detain journalists covering protests

Security forces beat and detained at least four journalists covering protests in the Ugandan capital Kampala recently (20 August), and confiscated or damaged their equipment, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.

The New York-based media freedom watchdog has condemned the attacks, and called on Ugandan authorities to hold those responsible to account.

Journalists attacked and detained include Reuters photojournalist James Akena and Alfred Ochwo, a photojournalist working for privately-owned newspaper the Observer.

They were arrested while covering protests in Kampala to demand the release of lawmakers, including opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, who were arrested in connection to unrest in the northern town of Arua on August 13, during which President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy was stoned.

“Journalists working for foreign interests or for our own local parasites tell lies,” Museveni, in power since 1986, wrote in his blog.

He referred to news outlets including Monitor and NTV as fake news generators, a description popularised by US President Donald Trump.

“President Museveni’s public disdain for the news media is especially alarming given the ongoing crackdown by police and military personnel on journalists working to keep Uganda’s public informed,” Muthoki Mumo, CPJ sub-Saharan Africa representative, said in a statement.

“Ugandan authorities should conduct rigorous investigations into the assaults on journalists, hold accountable those responsible, and commit to preventing future violence and detentions by security personnel.”

(CPJ/Photo by AP/final editing by Issa Sikiti da Silva)

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