Media freedom on trial as Ugandan police brutalize ,abduct journalists

NTV Uganda journalist Herbert ZZiwa who is missing after chaos that rocked a parliamentary rally in Arua, Northern Uganda on Monday PHOTO COURTESY

Kampala,UGANDA:The quest for a free and independent media in East Africa has suffered a blow after journalists were on Monday assaulted and abducted while covering a political event in Northern Uganda.

Two Nation Television (NTV) journalists, Herbert Zziwa and Ronald Munangwa went missing while covering a rally in Arua area, that was organized by a member of parliament for Kyaddondo East area, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, and independent candidate Kassiano Wadri.

The rally, which was a campaign for the Arua by-election scheduled for this Wednesday, also left several journalists attacked and injured, and their equipment including cameras either destroyed or confiscated.

Among the injured were NBS’ cameraperson Yiga Julius Bakabaage who is hospitalised and an NTV driver who was also assaulted, in the attacks that have been blamed on Ugandan security forces.

In solidarity, the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) has demanded of the Ugandan government to reveal the whereabouts of the two journalists and stop the affront on the media.

“We call on the Ugandan authorities to ensure the journalists who have been reported kidnapped or missing are released and to assure the Uganda media fraternity and the global community that the government is committed to the protection of journalists doing legitimate duty,” KCA, said in the statement.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda (FCAU) also condemned the attacks.

“The authorities must release or charge all journalists detained in Arua, provide access to suitable medical care for those detained and investigate allegations of assaults on the media by security forces,” they said in their statement.

The incident stirs up memories of similar attacks meted in Kenya, including the assault on journalists who were covering the return to Kenya of the controversial and self-proclaimed National Resistance Movement (NRM) general, Miguna Miguna at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in March this year.