By Henry D Gombya in London and Nkonge I Kaggwa in Kampala
A claim by the Uganda Police Force (UPF) that a woman politician undressed herself last weekend in an attempt to tarnish ‘the good name of the Uganda Police’ has been widely condemned.
The UPF was accused of ‘trying to hide the publically-known misconduct of its errant officers’ after a police spokesperson told a press conference a woman politician publicly humiliated at the weekend when officers undressed her while trying to arrest her, had herself voluntarily taken her clothes off in an attempt to tarnish ‘the good name’ of the UPF.
In a press statement issued Wednesday by Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda (HRNJ – Uganda), its National Coordinator Robert Ssempala said allegations against the Ugandan media made by police spokesperson Fred Enanga at a press conference last Monday that the media had ‘doctored’ video footage that showed police officers undressing the woman, were intended to ‘blackmail, criminalise and intimidate the media’. “The allegations are further aimed at instilling self-censorship among independent media houses and above all, to silence, stifle and suffocate freedom of expression,” Ssempala said.
At the press conference, Mr Enanga denied the police had undressed the woman, Zainab Fatuma Naigaga, a prominent member of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party while she was on her way to Rukungiri to attend a rally that was due to be addressed by the party’s flag-bearer in next year’s general elections, Dr Kizza Besigye. Mr Enanga left many of the hacks assembled for the press conference at police headquarters in Naguru near Kampala open-mouthed when he claimed the police had ‘reliable information’ that the opposition had hired several women whose sole work was to undress themselves when police tried to arrest them for staging unlawful gatherings.