KAMPALA: The Inspector General of Police, Mr John Martins Okoth-Ochola, has said the Force is determined to improve relations with journalists and media practitioners in Uganda.
In a statement made on World Press Freedom Day, the IGP acknowledged the role journalists and media practitioners play, in providing information to society.
He added that there are much-improved relations between the police and the media.
“For instance, 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,” he said in the press statement.
The Police chief also noted that there is tremendous reduction in the use of teargas against journalists, which he attributed to 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.
The IGP further added that acts of interference and obstruction of journalism work, like seizing or damaging cameras, intimidation and other disruptive behaviour had reduced, due to the increased levels of awareness and sensitization on media roles.
To uphold this role, the IGP sent out a very strong reminder to all territorial commanders, that any attacks against journalists, are unacceptable and must not go unpunished.
In addition, all commanders have been directed 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,” IGP Ochola added.
On behalf of Police, he also pledged to continue working with media associations like the Editor’s Guild, HRNJ, UJA, Media Council and UCC 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.
“Therefore, as we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, the leadership of the Joint Security Agencies, reiterate their commitment to strengthen its relationship with the media. we are going to ensure you are better protected, as you strive to access information.”
Happy World Press Freedom Day!