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After countless apologies for brutalizing journalists in the course of doing their work, the Uganda Police has moved to compensate journalists for equipment damaged by its officers.

 

The first beneficiary is William Ntege aka Kyuumakyayesu, a freelance journalist attached to WBS television. The Police has given Ntege Shs 6.3m to replace his two cameras that were spoilt by security operatives while covering the Kampala Mayoral elections and a recent visit to St Balikuddembe (Owino) market for lunch by FDC President Kizza Besigye.

A joyous Ntege told The Observer today that the money was given to him by Police deputy spokesperson Judith Nabakooba. Ntege’s first camera was damaged in late 2011 while covering the Kampala Mayoral campaigns at Nakulabye, where plain-clothed security operatives attacked him and vandalized his camera estimated at Shs 4.5m and took away his Shs 100,000.

“They hit the camera with pistols; later I fell down breaking it,” he said.

This particular incident saw him briefly detained at Old Kampala Police station for a purported traffic offence before he was released after spending a night in custody. He reported the case of assault, malicious damage and theft of property at the CPS. As a freelance reporter, his camera is his means of survival so for him to continue fending for himself, he used his previous savings to buy another camera.

His new camera did survive the police brutality for long, damaged in April 2012, while he covered Dr Besigye and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago having lunch in St Balikuddembe market. Ntege confesses that he and another television journalist were standing on a slow-moving Police patrol car so as to be able to take some strategic shots as Police battled Besigye and his supporters.

On seeing them, he says, CPS Division Commander James Ruhweza unleashed police officers, who cruelly pulled him off the police vehicle. In the process, his camera rolled on the ground and stopped functioning. All these two cameras are in police custody. Last week’s compensation, however, didn’t come easily.

It took Ntege a lot of persistence characterized by recording several of statements with Police, many unfulfilled appointments with the Police Chief Lt Gen Edward Kale Kayihura and sit-down protests by Ntege at the Police headquarters on parliamentary avenue demanding to meet Kayihura and compensation for his cameras. On all these occasions, he would be threatened with arrests and also begged to leave the Police premises.

On Saturday June 30, 2012, Nabakooba called him to ask for the value of the cameras, before she later gave him the money. Looking back, Ntege says Police and security agencies need to do move beyond the compensation and apologise and penalize their errant officers.

“Will they keep beating us, spoil our cameras and then compensate us using taxpayer’s money?”

This view is shared by the Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) who said in a statement: “We are reliably informed that these two incidents were not investigated by the police, and as such no action was taken. This is, therefore, another way of covering up for errant police officers in the force. It promotes impunity and puts the work of journalists in a more dangerous situation at the hands of the same officers who remain occupying their offices and manning police operations.”

Many observers agree that freedom of expression, including media freedom, is under threat, especially from violence from the army and police.

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Comments

 
-6 #1 moses kimuli 2012-07-04 07:22
Journalists just like other citizens must follow the law,the police should not be protecting them separately during incidents.

Mistakes have been made by ugandan police just like the police in other countries have also made mistakes .An innocent man was killed in England after mistaking him for a terrorist,polic e in America have beaten people in broad day light.

what we have to remember is uganda is no special,i for one believe the ugandan police are proffesional and i for one belive we use less force in doubt try russian,chinese ,kenyan police.

forget human rights organisations they always talk out of this planet.They encourage people to break the law.Its evident during museveni's regime the media have alot of freedom some have actually abused it by writing defamation stories.

stop politicing everything.
moses kimuli portsmouth
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+3 #2 Kemigisha Janice 2012-07-04 12:05
Kimuli, what you have just said is easier said while you are in Portsmouth than in a repressive regime where Afande Kale Kayihura openly declared further militarization of the Uganda Police Force.

for you the recent shooting to death of three civilians in Jinja mean nothing, the loss of many lives during riots are only but a number worth comparison with China and Kenya.

lets not compare which police does better or worse here...brutality is brutality and the UPF has gone militaristic. please Kimuli follow the trends in UG more closely than you are doing.
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+2 #3 dominic 2012-07-04 12:54
those officers are not sent in the field to make mistakes that's why if incurred they are held responsible unlike here it's once in a while. you can't tell me that when someone is routed 100,000/= it's a mistake. it's intentional.
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+3 #4 steven kasiko 2012-07-04 13:36
Kimuli stop your pedestrian arguments get to know that two wrongs don't make aright if in Kenya Russia police 's killing people it means that also Uganda police should do the same

Kimuli try to sober up i thought that by now you would have learn t something from Portsmouth were you claim to be that you would be advising for the good of our country than selling your conscience

Get to know that now in Uganda we have a partisan police that has scored highly in human rights abuse being headed by an army officer. If they write defamation stories take them to court stop your crap
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-1 #5 Gerald 2012-07-04 13:46
today, 16 women are going to die in Uganda during childbirth. if we estimate the cost of childbirth at UGX 200,000 in a rural health center, the 6.3m paid to that journalist by police was going to save all these mother.

an equal number would have been saved tomorrow as well on the same amount of money, but they are guaranteed to die! we need to be serious.
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+1 #6 wodgot 2012-07-04 16:25
I hope the 6.3m paid to the Journalist was a direct deduction from their monthly pay. It shouldn't be footed by ordinary taxpayers who are always victims of police brutality.
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0 #7 Enock 2012-07-04 16:54
All this falls back to a government that no longer cares how much of the tax payer's money it can spend as long as some of them are still at the helm of leadership. I am deeply disappointed by Kimuli's view.

Like Steven said, two wrongs don't make a right. The Uganda Police Force has on most occasions gone beyond brutality completely disregarding the actual meaning of 'police' and as long as we have the Kayihura's of Uganda leading the force, I don't see any likely professional behavioral change in them in the near future.
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0 #8 moses kintu 2012-07-04 18:12
Kimuli you better go back read, if at that age you don't know the rights of journalist. Journalist isn't an ordinary person like you poor kimuli.
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0 #9 DAVID 2012-07-04 20:02
Well, what befalls the likes of Ntege et al are what we call "occupation hazards" experienced by journalists globally and hence there shouldn't be any cause for alarm.

The likes of Steven Kasiko ought to know that not every body with a camera and or any recording gadget during say riots automatically qualifies to be a journalist.

Those claiming to be journalists during such situations are obliged to wear identification tags indicating the media outlets to which they're affiliated otherwise they may be misconstrued as hoodlums since even they mightn't be donning specific uniforms as is the standard practice worldwide.
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0 #10 Rebecca Ninsiima 2012-07-05 10:22
Its very unfortunate that we have people like the Kimulis who dont see things beyong their survival means.

Kimuli remember that Uganda needs every shilling to improve the appalling standards of life of the citizens of this country.
Police must keep law and order,not merelly taking orders.
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+1 #11 wodgot 2012-07-05 13:45
If I were the police chief, I would dismiss that tall police constable from service. His behaviour is of a true civilian when a gun is being fired near him.

He didn't get good military drill during his course. Is that the kind of police we are wasting money on?
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+1 #12 wodgot 2012-07-05 16:04
Him and the police officer who's standing behind him are equally hopeless. I forgive the photo Journalist wearing a brown shirt and a black pair of trousers.

The police officer who's standing behind the woman firing the gun, the gentleman in white shirt and the photo journalist in yellow T-shirt are the types of people I dream to work with.
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0 #13 Betty Long Cap 2012-07-05 18:36
That photo is top-notch journalism.
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