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Uganda: Police chief threatens to beat journalists for their own safety

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Uganda’s Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, has refused to apologize for the violence of security forces against the media.

Ochola was speaking at a pre-election news conference with senior security officials, on Friday.

“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 told newsmen at the conference.

Campaigning ahead of the January 14 election in Uganda has been marked by brutal crackdowns on opposition rallies. President Yoweri Museveni faces 10 other candidates including popstar-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine.

“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.

The International Press Institute (IPI) in November, called on Uganda to investigate police attacks on reporters. while the New York based rights group Human Rights Watch warned that Museveni’s government was using Covid-19 rules as a pretext to violate rights and crack down on the opposition and the media.

Ugandan presidential hopeful and political activist Bobi Wine has been arrested on numerous occasions in the run up to the election.