A female police officer has grabbed a Vision Group journalist’s photo camera and deleted photographs he had taken during a court session at Nakawa in Kampala, despite the court having granted the journalists permission to cover the proceedings.
Peter Busomoke, who has practiced journalism since 1979, told HRNJ-Uganda that his efforts to plead with the police officer were in vain. “The police officer did not want me to take photos in court, but I told her that we had been given permission to take photos as long as there was no flash light. She went away with my camera, I followed her up until she returned it, but she ordered me to delete the photos I had taken of a suspect when he stood in the dock, which I did. I was surprised since this was an open court and there were other journalists. I have covered court since 1979, I know how courts work, but this officer just wanted to show her authority.” Busomoke said.
The judiciary spokesperson, Erias Kisawuzi assured HRNJ-Uganda that the matter would be investigated if reported to them, “If you have any complaint against the court, you raise it to us, then we shall investigate. There are appropriate authorities in place which will act.” Kisawuzi said adding that if the court had allowed the journalists, then there was no problem.
In 2012, Justice Faith Mwondha threw out of her court journalists saying that she did not need media publicity. HRNJ-Uganda petitioned The Judicial Service Commission and the Principal Judge seeking for intervention to restrain her from witch-hunting the media. This was as a result of various incidents in Kampala, Jinja and Entebe where she reportedly threw out journalists from courtrooms for no clear reason. The authorities undertook to investigate the matter but no conclusive report has since been released.
HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the conduct of the police at court. We call upon the judiciary authorities to investigate the circumstances into which the police grabbed and later ordered the deletion of the journalist’s material.
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