Abuses aimed at journalists covering Uganda’s 2016 general election

published on 27.02.2016 by admin


The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU) is concerned over a recent series of abuses aimed at journalists covering Uganda’s 2016 general election. FCAU recognizes Uganda as a country with a vibrant media landscape and with room for expression of diverging opinions; we call upon the authorities to safeguard this status by respecting the freedom of journalists both foreign and local. FCAU represents more than thirty journalists, Ugandan as well as foreign, who work for foreign media houses. FCAU is affiliated to the Nairobi-based Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA).

FCAU states the following:

Regarding the pepper spraying incident:

On February 22, 2016, photographer Isaac Kasamani, who works for press agency AFP, was taking pictures outside the home of politician Kizza Besigye in Kasangati near Uganda’s capital Kampala. As Mr Kasamani was busy carrying out his work, he was pepper sprayed in his face – an action that, FCAU emphasizes, was unjustified. Attached to this statement are pictures that show the incident, including one image of the apparent security operative moving back to the police lines after the spraying.

Regarding the assertion on internet forums in Uganda as well as in an official statement from Ugandan authorities, that two foreign journalists “assaulted” the police officer in charge at the time of the pepper spraying incident:

Video footage clearly shows that the journalists merely protested the fact that one of their colleagues had just been pepper sprayed in the face for no valid reason. As is audible on the video footage, the journalists were requesting the officer in charge to explain the incident.

Regarding the publication of one foreign journalist’s passport data:

Like any other person, journalists should be able to trust that their personal data are secure. In this case not only were personal data distributed, they were apparently also used to fabricate a video in which the journalist in question supposedly states that he was asked to stage-manage chaos outside politician Kizza Besigye’s home. The voice-over in the video is fake, and any claim that the journalist was involved in stage-managing chaos is completely untrue.

FCAU wishes to underscore its belief in the importance of factually correct reporting, whether it concerns the news in Uganda or stories that are about journalists themselves, as is currently the case. Lastly: FCAU is open to engagement, without compromising on the tenet of independent journalism. FCAU reiterates its call to allow journalists both local and foreign to do their work without hindrance.


Photo 1 | Photo 2Photo 3 | Photo 4 | press release PDF