Kampala, 15th/February/2015; The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has ordered for investigations into cases of violations of media freedom and journalists rights, and release the reports to the public in order to end impunity. He also called for continuous dialogue between the media and key government institutions and departments.
This was during a 3-hour meeting between journalists led by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda and Gen. Aronda, at his offices at Kololo Airstrip, over heightened brutality against journalists by security agents, especially the police.
Aronda commended the role played by the media as the fourth estate of government, observing that this critical role must be well known by all government agencies especially the armed forces, “the role of the media is a ‘must know’ not a ‘should know’ to all government bodies.”
Aronda committed to ensuring that there are regular structured meetings between the media and officials from the ministry of information and national guidance, the police, prisons, Immigration, spokespersons of government departments and key media personalities to deliberate on the challenges being faced by the media with a view of improving the working environment.
In a 3-page petition handed over to the minister by the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala, the journalists asked Gen. Aronda to ensure that errant police officers face disciplinary measures, suspended from their offices of work and discharged from the force as a way to counter the wide scale impunity. They want the reports of such actions to be made public.
Lynn Najjemba, from Panos Eastern Africa asked the minister to ensure that journalists are treated fairly like other citizens of Uganda.
Aronda instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr. Stephen Kagoda to coordinate efforts aimed at having regular meetings and dialogue over the issues raised during the meeting.
After failing to meet the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura over the increased brutality against journalists which saw the then Old Kampala DPC, Joram Mwesigye going on rampage and beating journalists including a WBS Television journalist, Andrew Lwanga leaving him unconscious, the media players sought for a meeting with Gen. Aronda who is the line minister in charges of the police and prisons. The next meeting is slated for February 27, 2015.