BY Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Inspector General of Police(IGP), Martin Okoth Ochola, has said that he has sent out a very strong reminder to all territorial police commanders that any attacks against journalists are unacceptable and must not go unpunished.
Ochola made the remarks as journalists in Uganda joined the rest of the rest of the world to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day.
The day is celebrated to ensure the protection and safety of the press in the face of attacks against its independence, to discuss journalistic ethics and to celebrate journalists who gave their lives in the pursuit of truth.
In his statement, Ochola instructed all commanders to act quickly where journalists are threatened and initiate prompt, thorough and transparent investigations, and perpetrators brought to book.
“The office of the police press and public relations, will continue fast tracking all incidents involving journalists, including citizen journalists and ensure their rights are protected,” said Ochola.
He explained that press freedom was about the right to receive and impart information, before acknowledging the role journalists and media practitioners play, in providing information to society.
He said that he was happy about the much-improved relations between the police and the media.
For instance, he said this year alone, there has been a tremendous reduction in the use of teargas as a crowd dispersal method and very few incidents of physical attacks on journalists and disruption of media workers.
Ochola attributed this to the adequate training, extended to all police officers on the roles and functions of journalists, as well as regular refresher courses on media roles and policing.
“We pledge to continue working with media associations to dialogue, in order to avoid friction or clashes between the police, other security agencies and members of the media, especially in times of crisis, electoral periods and during public demonstrations,” he said.