The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Okoth Ochola has ordered all Police officers to ensure the safety of journalists as well as refrain from abusing the freedoms of the press.
In a stern warning issued Wednesday, the Police Chief said no journalist should ever be abused or tortured by a police officer.
The order is contained in a May 16 circular issued by IGP Ochola to all Unit Commanders of the Police across the country.
“Unit commanders must observe the safety of journalists very critically and no journalist or citizen should ever be abused or tortured,” Ochola said in his circular.
He said “torture is a criminal offence according to the law” and that “whoever will be found to be involved in the crime shall be expeditiously investigated and prosecuted”.
The directive follows a meeting held between news Editors and the IGP on Wednesday morning at the Police headquarters in Naguru. In the meeting, the Editors raised the concern of the continued maltreatment of journalists by police officers and how the IGP was planning to deal with it.
It comes at a time when the relations between the Police and the media are at their lowest, with some journalists still shunning from covering Police, following events of last month when journalists were brutalized by police officers at Naguru.
Last month, journalists who had gone to the Naguru police tribunal to cover the case involving former Buyende DPC, Muhammad Kirumira were denied access and later roughed up by police officers.
A repeat of events occurred days later when several reporters including a female were assaulted by police officers, blocking them from covering the same tribunal.
This angered journalists some of who took to social media platforms to rally their colleagues to shun all events organized by the Police.
Robert Sempala, the Executive Director for Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda urged the press to keep away from covering Police press conferences and other events saying that the Police had demonstrated that it has no respect for the media.
“What we have seen today has continued to discurage us. Though Police changed leadership, events today show that there is still a problem,” Sempala told journalists who had camped outside the police headquarters.
During this week’s discussion with Editors, Ochola committed to issue a circular warnings his officers from subjecting journalists to acts of abuse.
“The constitution calls upon all to preserve, protect and promote media freedoms,” the IGP said in his circular.
He says that the Police will occasionally hold meetings with the media to “review operations share information, appreciate each other’s roles and learn from each other”.
Accordingly, all other units of Police have been asked to hold such meetings in order to reach the same objectives. Ochola said it is healthy for the respective units to pay visits to the media houses in their areas of responsibility and leverage from the good will that Police shares with them.
Meanwhile, journalists covering the Police weekly news conferences as well as other news events at the Police headquarters will now be accredited and vetted.
This new development is also contained in the same circular.
“At Police headquarters, we shall request all media houses to appoint a number of journalists to be vetted and accredited accordingly as it happens with Parliament and other institutions,” the IGP stated.
This measure is aimed at addressing the challenge of impostors, according to the IGP.
Leave a Reply