By Nkonge Ismail Kaggwa in Kampala
A number of leading Ugandan journalists were arrested yesterday after the Ugandan police fought running battles with journalists protesting the closure by police of two Ugandan media houses and two radio stations. Roads leading to the closed Monitor Publications offices were closed as police used tear gas and live bullets to try and disperse the journalists who had camped outside the Monitor Publications offices.
Among those arrested was the National Coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda,Geoffrey Wokulira Sebaggala, a WBS journalist Mulindwa Mukasa, Ms Bahati Remy of NBS TV, as well as William Ntege and Sudhir Byaruhanga of NTV. The scuffles between Ugandan journalist and the police lasted for at least an hour during which time two video cameras were confiscated and several journalists lost their mobile phones.,
Last week, a Uganda Magistrates Court recalled a search warrant which the police had used to cordon off the two media houses and ordered them to vacate the premises. The police have since deliberately defied the court orders putting into question claims of the rule of law by the country’s longest serving leader Gen Yoweri Museveni. Police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura who was yesterday among senior officers decorates after having been recently promoted by Gen Museveni said last Monday that his forces would not vacate the affected media houses until they secured the original letter authored by Gen. David ‘Tinye’ Sejjusa.
He criticized the court for recalling the search warrant which he said would be contested by police through the higher courts of law, He also added that while they had refused to adhere to a court ruling regarding the media houses, his forces would continue the search without a search warrant using a Police Act that purportedly mandates them to search any place even if there no warrant authorizing the search.