Uganda’s police Police Force (UPF) chief IGP Martins Okoth Ochola says the security agency will not apologize for beating journalists covering the 2021 presidential election, vowing officers will continue to beat reporters for their safety.
During a joint security briefing at the police headquarters at Naguru in Kampala on January 08, Ochola addressed claims of officers targeting journalists.
On December 27, police reportedly fired teargas and rubber bullets at Ali Mivule of NTV Ugandan, Ashraf Kasirye of Ghetto Media, and Daniel Lutaaya of NBS TV while covering National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine at Kyabakuza.
According to Ochola, police officers beat up journalists to shield them from danger.
“When we tell a journalist, don’t go there and you insist on going where there is danger, we shall beat you for your own safety,” Ochola told reporters.
He said he was sorry for the brutality police officers meted out on journalists but would not apologize.
“I have no apology. We shall not apologize but we shall continue helping you not to go where there is danger,” he said.
He also accused the media of negative portrayal of the force.
“We have heard complaints that security is targeting the media. On the contrary, it is the media targeting security. It is portraying security as brutal and siding with government.”
Ochola’s deputy Maj Gen Paul Lokech told reporters Uganda’s police was not brutal.
UPDF’s Deputy Land forces Commander UPDF Gen Sam Kavuma said: “I don’t remember sitting in any of the meeting to plan on how to target the media.”