Uganda’s Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, has said that beating up journalists in the line of their duties is for their own safety.
Ochola has been under pressure to apologize for the violence meted out to journalists by security forces.
Several journalists have suffered abuses and violence ahead of this month’s general elections in Uganda.
The International Press Institute (IPI) in November last year, called on Uganda to investigate police attacks on reporters.
The New York based rights group Human Rights Watch also warned that the current government was using Covid-19 rules as a pretext to violate rights and crack down on the opposition and the media.
But Ochola on Friday said at a pre-election news conference with senior security officials that restraining journalists forcefully is for their own safety.
He said “I have no apology. Actually, you are saying ‘is police apologizing for mishandling journalists?’ My answer is, I’m very sorry, excuse me, we shall not apologize. But we shall continue to help you not to go where danger is.”
The police chief added that “It is not that we are targeting you the media, no, we are trying to protect your lives, we are telling you it is danger there, for you, you are insisting you must go where there is danger.”
“Yes, we shall beat you for your own sake. To help you understand to not go there.” the police chief stressed at the conference.
— NTV UGANDA (@ntvuganda) January 8, 2021
The 2021 election campaign in Uganda has been marked by crackdowns on opposition rallies.
President Yoweri Museveni is facing 10 other candidates including musician-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine.