UJA condemns assault on journalists at FDC headquarters

Jul 21, 2023

UJA president Mathias Rukundo said journalists are not to blame for the unrest in FDC and only showed up to perform their duties.

FDC party chairman Amb. Wasswa Biriga was blocked from holding a press conference at the HQ, before he was allowed to sneak in through a small gate on July 20, 2023. (Credit: Isaac Nuwagaba)

Jeff Andrew Lule
Journalist @New Vision

The Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) has condemned the attack on journalists who were covering the events at the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party headquarters on Thursday.

In a statement released Friday, UJA president Mathias Rukundo expressed regret that those who once claimed to be fighting for justice and human rights are now stifling press freedom.

He said that as a preventative precaution against future press freedom and human rights breaches, UJA has also directed their legal team to pursue the appropriate legal action against the perpetrators.  

"This entire situation is so disturbing that journalists were beaten by a group of goons called "kanyamas", who attacked them as they carried out their legal obligations outside the party premises, leaving a number of journalists seriously injured, including an intern journalist Nowamani Ainembabazi attached to Urban TV - Vision Group," said Rukundo.

He said journalists are not to blame for the unrest in FDC and only showed up to perform their duties.

After being assaulted, Ainembabazi was sent to the nearest medical centre. Her mobile phones were also seized.

Other journalists, including Charles Katabalwa of Radio Sapientia, Joseph Balikuddembe of CBS Emmanduso, Moses Waiswa of Busoga One, and George William Katoloba of Namirembe FM, had their mobile phones and recording equipment seized as well.

Rukundo said the assault on the journalists is not only criminal, but also a clear violation of press freedom under Article 29 and 40 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.

“We, therefore, strongly condemn such attacks on press freedom and demand that the suspects be brought to book immediately.

"We also demand for immediate return of all confiscated journalist work devices."

Meanwhile, Police said they would investigate the chaotic scenes that played out at the FDC headquarters just off the Kampala-Entebbe Road.

FDC national chairman Amb. Wasswa Birigwa was initially blocked from entering the offices to address a press conference, before he was allowed to sneak in through a small gate.

Thursday's events laid bare the internal power struggle within the opposition party. This week, a section of party officials accused party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat and secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi of being funded by the ruling NRM party.

That group was led by party spokesperson and Kira municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.

In a rebuttal, Amuriat denied the allegations and claimed that Ssemujju and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago were being used by political elements to try and divide the party.

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