News

August 22, 2018

Ugandan journalists badly beaten by soldiers

Screenshot of journalist James Akena being beaten by soldiers on 20 August in Kampala, Uganda. © NTV
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the brutal methods that Ugandan soldiers used against journalists covering demonstrations in Kampala on 20 August, and calls on the authorities to ensure that this violence does not go unpunished.

The photos and videos posted by media outlets show the level of force used. Reutersphotojournalist James Akena can be see on his knees, with his arms raised, being beaten by three soldiers.

 

Akena was one of the journalists covering the demonstrations for the release of Robert Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament and pop singer also known as Bobi Wine, who has been held since last week on a charge of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

 

The weekly newspaper The Observerreported that its photographer, Alfred Ochwo, and two NTV colleagues, Ronald Galiwango and Juma Kirya, were also badly beaten by soldiers.

 

According to the information obtained by RSF, at least six reporters were the targets of violence by soldiers while covering the protests. Several journalists also said that soldiers forced them to delete content from their cameras, video cameras and smartphones.

 

It a statement yesterday afternoon, the Ugandan army issued an apology and said it had ordered the arrest of the soldiers responsible, without naming them.

 

“Members of the security forces were guilty of a serious failure to do their duty,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “Instead of protecting journalists who were just doing their job, soldiers attacked them brutally. Exemplary punishments must be imposed on these soldiers. Those who embody the authority of the state cannot commit acts of such brutality without being prosecuted.”

 

Uganda is ranked 117th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2017.