Statement from the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU)
The Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) has noted with great concern an incident in which a journalist from the New Vision Jinja Bureau office, Mr. Abubaker Mukose, was roughed up by security operatives at attached to Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga's security detail. Mukose's alleged crime was to take Kadaga's picture as she danced at an end-of-year/new year party organised by the Jinja municipal authorities.
We condemn this unprovoked attack on the journalist who was simply executing his duties at a function to which he was officially invited by the Jinja Town Council authorities. This attack is at variance with the principles of a free society and is even more blatant since it was committed in the presence of a person who is supposed to be a guardian of societal liberties.
The Parliament Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga should educate her bodyguards that she is a public figure who serves the people of Uganda and can be photographed any time as long as she presides over functions in her capacity as Deputy Speaker.
We were shocked to learn that the "learned friend" could not even order his ignorant bodyguards to stop roughing up the innocent journalist.
Because she did nothing to restrain the actions of people who were directly under her charge, The Uganda Journalists Union holds Miss Kadaga responsible for this attack. Her silence as this crime against freedom of expression was being committed signifies endorsement of the actions of her security detail and at the very least, the journalistic community expects an immediate and unequivocal apology from her.
This behaviour becomes even the more surprising given that even his Excellence President Yoweri Museveni, whose security demands are even higher than those of Ms Kadaga, has never had journalists beaten up because they took his photographs as he danced.
Mukose did not invade Kadaga's privacy since he did not take her picture at a private function or as she danced in her house. By accepting to be guest of honor at the new year festivities, the deputy Speaker should ahve expected to meet newsmen who would no doubt be obliged to report on what she said and did during the occasion.
UJU wants the Deputy Speaker to apologise to the journalism fraternity for the actions of her security men and to institute disciplinary proceedings against the perpetrators. Short of this, UJU will be left with no option but to take recourse to the judicial system to seek redress on behalf of its wronged member.
As Speaker she heads an institution that makes laws on which Uganda is run and can therefore not just look on as injustice and violation of human rights prevails at a function she is guest of honour.
How then will the public trust the Deputy Speaker to preside over Bills (Laws) in the House with utmost impartiality when her image is tainted by her body guards who do not seem not understand the limit to their body-guarding portfolio.
Stephen OUMA BWIRE
UJU General Secretary