Police to accredit journalists

Gone are the days when every journalist would just walk into a police station to follow a story.

Journalists covering the police will now go through a specialised training by the Uganda police force before they get accredited as crime reporters.

This was announced by police spokesman Emilian Kayima told a dialogue support mechanisms for the safety of journalists held on Tuesday at Imperial Royale Hotel.

The dialogue was organised by Centre for public interest law (CEPIL) partnered with various organisations that include, the Uganda National coordination committee for safety of Journalists which includes Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda (HRNJ-U) and Uganda Journalists’ Association (UJA) in partnership with East Africa Media Institute Uganda (EAMI-U).

It was aimed at providing long lasting solutions against the increased violence against journalists and the dangers they face in the course of their duties.

Kayima said, the police management had decided to work with managers and editors of media houses to assign particular journalists whom the police will take to training to get a better understanding of the police work and other issues related to crime.

The interface with managers and editors is scheduled for Wednesday May 16.

This is probably one of the new measures by the police administration intended to keep a good image of the police.

Emilian Kayima said, for journalists to find vindication they must find a way of understanding and appreciating their role as well as the police’s.

“Can we create a mechanism where we talk openly, and honestly and I think that can be done without compromising you” Kayima said.

He advised journalists to seek institutional support when they are in danger, and recommended other avenues such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) if they don’t trust police.

To strengthen support for journalists’ safety, Uganda Law Society (ULS) announced that it will offer free legal support to any journalist whose rights are violated.

Uganda law society president, Simon Peter Kinobe said since media plays a central role in making sure everybody is in line, it needs support and safety against those who perpetuate crimes on their rights.

“Uganda Journalist Union, this is what I undertake at Uganda Law Society, we call upon you to tell us when there is any danger and we shall provide free legal services. We want to see a more professionalized media team” Kinobe said.

He further said that ULS is beginning a process of taking on errand officers personally to serve for the presence of people hiding behind the cloud of government.

“’We are immune, order from above,’ now we are going to isolate you and sue you in your person. Impunity shall not be tolerated in whatever manner in whoever’s name, we are going to start isolating them.” Kinobe said.