It is not once, but instead often that journalists worldwide face harassment as they try to intervene over socio-political events. Human Rights activists have accused governments of failing to redress the abuses that these media personalities battle. And as such, some of them have lost their lives while in the fields collecting data. For instance, police brutality on journalists in Uganda is currently rising, especially since their presidential elections are looming.
Several videos of injured journalists bleeding have surfaced online. This has drawn public attention because people are demanding such harassment to come to an end.
Attacks on Journalists
For some time, both local and foreign journalists in Uganda have become a target for police in the country. Police officers have fired shots at them, threatening to end their lives. Some have managed to escape unhurt while others sustained fatal injuries. Apparently, all this happens while filming political events. Recently, Moses Bwayo, a Ugandan journalist, alleged he was shot by a policeman while filming the arrival of an influential presidential opposition (Bobi Wine). He narrates that the events happened within a blink of an eye. All he heard was a police commander ordering the others to shoot at the journalists and kill them.
Amidst all the controversies, foreign reporters have lost their jobs as their credentials have been torn and demanded to reapply. It is quite unfortunate as they have been facing unceasing attacks. It is just recently that the Ugandan government announced that only certified journalists will film the events on the day of the elections. Nonetheless, some journalists have complained of rejection even after submitting legit documentations. Solomon Kaweesa, a former media personality, tweeted that the Ugandan Medical Council intentionally denied him accreditation despite offering the requirements.
Meanwhile, citizens in the country feel that the incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni, has a role to play in the above atrocities. Being the President, he had the power to give orders, which consequently impact the journalists. It is also evident that Mr. Yoweri does not have a liking for journalists covering opposition parties’ stories. Hence that’s already a motive to gun for them. Most especially journalists covering stories on Bobi Wine, have suffered the wrath of security forces. The police have teargassed, pepper-sprayed, and confiscated their gadgets. These incidences triggered protests in December last year after officers shot two journalists.
The demonstrators dressed in bulletproof vests as they marched in solidarity seeking justice for their wounded colleagues. Ashraf Kasirye, one of the victims, is still recovering in the hospital after sustaining a head injury.
What Do Activists Have to Say?
A certain Freedom Watchdog says that it has documented over 100 journalist attacks since the onset of Presidential nominations in November. The activists state that security forces in the country have been conducting deliberate attacks on innocent journalists. There have been instances where police have threatened to shoot at reporters and gone ahead to shoot. It is the first-time journalists in Uganda are facing unending attacks amid general elections. And, unfortunately, not even the leading authorities are condemning it. President Museveni is accusing the journalists of colluding with the foreigners.