Journalists who cover police functions and crime have threatened to halt coverage of the security agency following what they described as attack on press freedom.
This follows incidents of scuffles between the pressmen and police officers that broke out on Thursday morning at the police headquarters in Naguru.
The fracas started when police denied journalists access to the facility where the police disciplinary committee was set to announce it’s ruling on the cases of ASP Muhammad Kirumira who was the former DPC for Buyende district.
In the scuffle, journalists were roughed up by the counter terrorism police that was heavily deployed at all access points of the security headquarters.
Many were beaten by security personnel and their gadgets damaged.
Journalists speak out
“Starting with next Monday no journalist should attend police press briefings,” said Mukasa Dodovico, a reporter with CBS radio station.
Muyingo Joseph, a journalist with Delta TV, said: “Let your police press team cover your events; never bother to call us again.”
Journalists every Monday are usually invited by police to cover their press briefings at Central Police Station in Kampala. But on numerous occasions, journalists have been brutally handled by policemen when covering sensitive events.
IGP speaks out
Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola while speaking to lawmakers on Thursday, however, said that the tribunal is allowed under the law to “exclude the press or the public from all or any proceedings before it for reasons of morality, public order or national security, as may be necessary in a free and democratic society.”
The IGP said he doesn’t condone assaulting Journalists, and advised those who were beaten to seek redress since assault is a criminal act which should be tried in Courts of law.
“An assault is a criminal Act; whoever assaults a journalist commits a crime which has to be investigated,” Ocola said.
He however, condemned the actions of the former Buyende DPC Kirumira, who he said needs to be disciplined.
“You have all watched the conduct of this officer, his conduct requires us to have him tried in hell perhaps, and you will agree with me that at least we have been giving Kirumira the benefit of doubt.”
“Kirumira takes advantage of being portrayed by the press as a martyr and we shall not accept that,” he added.