Only accredited journalists will cover elections, Uganda police issues ultimatum

Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech
Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech, the Deputy Inspector General of Police

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Uganda Police Force has issued a press statement informing the public that effective 31st December, 2020 only journalists and media practitioners who are accredited by the Media Council will be recognized during the coverage of political campaigns and other electoral events.

The statement dated 30th December 2020 and signed by Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech, the Deputy Inspector General of Police informs all accredited journalists that zonal and territorial commanders of the Police have been availed the list of all successfully accredited journalists for ease of verification.

The Media Council of Uganda early this month started a process of  registering all practicing journalists in the country.

The chairperson of the Media Council Paulo Ekochu said that all media houses both local and international including freelance journalists who fail to register will have criminal charges placed against them. The deadline for the registration process was extended from the 21st to the 31st December.

The Press and Journalists Act gives the Media Council the power to register journalists.

The police statement says all the accredited journalists and media practitioners, must visibly wear their press badges at all times, while covering the political campaigns and electoral events.

“They should also know that the media press badges are personalized and therefore, non-transferable,” adds the statement. The move by the police comes hot on the heels of harsh criticism directed at the Police Force from the public and the media fraternity for brutal treatment of journalists in the line of duty.

On Monday Journalists staged a mass walkout from the Uganda Media Center, boycotting a security press over continued harassment from security operatives.

This followed attacks by the police on Ghetto TV’s Ashraf Kasirye, NTV’s Ali Mivule and NBS’s Daniel Lutaaya as they covered the National Unity Platform [NUP] Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine campaigns on Sunday.

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Maj. Gen Lokech signs off by saying all journalists who are subjected to any form of physical abuse and other forms of harassment in the course of their duties are reminded to report their cases to the Media Crimes Department at CID headquarters.

According to the statement the Commissioner, Media Crimes Department can be reached on telephone contact 0783100402.