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Journalists accuse Police of harassment
Publish Date: Mar 15, 2011
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By JACKIE NAMBOGA

JOURNALIST operating in Jinja district have asked the district Police commander, Jonathan Musinguzi, to explain why policemen under his command fired teargas at them.

The journalists stormed Musinguzi’s office at the Jinja Central Police Station on Monday and accused him and his men of harassment as the scribes covered a demonstration on Friday.

The Police engaged in running battles with rioters who were led by two former presidential candidates, Dr. Olara Otunnu of UPC and Samuel Lubega, an independent.

The demonstration was part of their nationwide campaign against what they called incompetence by the Electoral Commission. They accused the commission of failure to organise credible elections.

However, during the process, the Police turned its gadgets against the scribes.
Hasifah Nakyanzi, who works with Top TV, was said to have lost two of her front teeth.

Another journalist, Isaac Kintu of NTV, was kicked and roughed up by the Police officers as he recorded pictures of the demonstration.

Paul Isabirye of WBS said he was showered with tear gas while screening pictures by the roadside.

“We are demanding an explanation why the Police officers were brutal, yet we could easily be identified from other civilians. We could be identified by the gadgets we had like video cameras and voice recorders,” Isabirye said.

Isabirye also said many journalists had press tags and jackets with visible inscriptions of their media houses.

In response, Musinguzi said he did not have time to differentiate between the journalists and the hooligans who, he said, were led by Otunnu.

He told journalists to always identify suitable places where they cannot be injured during the course of covering riots and other similar incidents.

“Journalists are part of civilians and it may not be easy for the Police to identify them,” Musinguzi said.

However, he criticised the Police officers who harassed the scribes and apologised to them, saying those who engaged in the act would be investigated and dealt with accordingly.

He commended journalists for bringing out their grievances in an ethical manner rather than taking to streets.

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