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JUST IN: Police Officer Suspended after He Was Filmed Pepper Spraying Journalists

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The leadership of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) has suspended an officer who was captured pepper spraying journalists in Kampala on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

Photographer Francis Isano and reporter Thomas Kitimbo, both from Next Media Services, were attacked and pepper sprayed as officers of UPF attempted to disperse pre-intern doctors who were addressing the media ahead of their demonstration on Tuesday morning.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said UPF’s leadership had “strongly condemned” the way in which the two reporters were treated. Police has since suspended CPL Yeeko Ogwal for pepper spraying the reporters.

UPF has urged Kitimbo and Isano to file complaints with the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) to assist in the prosecution of the officer who has already apologized to the reporters.

“The abuse directed at journalists and reporters for simply doing their job, can never be justified. The officer who acted unprofessionally has been identified as CPL Ogwal Yeeko. Although the officer issued an apology to the journalists, he has still been suspended and handed over to the Professional Standards Unit, for investigations,” noted Enanga.

“From the part of the two journalists, it’s crucial that they record their statements with PSU, to allow charges to be brought against the officers. We have also reached out to the journalists, Next Media and expressed deep regrets over the conduct of our officers.”

Meanwhile, other officers are also being investigated and the UPF leaders has sent out a new administrative circular to all territorial commanders to regularly review their enforcement operations to suit public expectations.

According to Enanga, for their failings, ASP Sowali Kamulya, the OC Field Force Unit Kira division; AIP John Steven Ogwang, the OC operations Wandegeya; and PC Harriet Laker have all been summoned by PSU as investigations into the incident continues.

Enanga also talked of the relationship between the press and the officers of the law.

“As an organisation, we have a long and proud history with the media, especially crime reporters, whose journalistic work has helped shape our institution and society. And for the last two years we have an incident – free working relationship. However, the action of our officers, indicates that there is still work that we must do, to better protect journalists and reporters, so that they can play their part in keeping the public informed without fear or favour. We are going to ensure that they go about their work without being intimidated, attacked or threatened,” he wrote.

“Once again, we look forward to working together to ensure that journalists operating within KMP and all other territorial jurisdictions, can continue doing their vital work of informing the public. We know that this trust and confidence had improved in the last two years, and we pledge to provide a better service to reporters and journalists, as we deal with the internal cultures and standards that negatively impact our working relationship.

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