Army spokesman, Brigadier Richard Karemire, echoed one of his boss’s (Maj. Gen. David Muhoozi) intentions, that the soldiers, who beat up journalists recently for covering up the riots in Kampala, be arrested, tried and convicted for grievous bodily assault. It is incontrovertible that the heinous crime of assaulting the journalists was covered on film, providing ample criminal evidence.
This is not the first time that Government spokespersons have come out to announce an action that reflects the popular will. They usually surface to reflect the feeling of the public on an issue that is clearly committed against the people – such as the attack on the journalists.
In most cases this is a diversion to let the people keep quiet; and hopefully let the incidents die down and people forget the whole matter: and life continues as usual. In some instances, the spokespersons make such scandalous statements against the victims, as to make the public wonder whether these people are in their right senses. There are countless examples of this kind of behaviour over the three decades of this Government.
Only last week in Parliament, a senior minister made a statement which was obviously ridiculous, even in the hearing of his own Parliamentary colleagues. And when he was heckled on it, he retorted that: “This is the Government statement,” as if to say that because it was a Government statement; therefore it is true!
What needs to be done in this case is that, there has to be transparency on the matter from the start. In other words, the Army must first of all institute the arrest of these soldiers; and let the media cover it from there on. When the case comes to court, it needs to be clearly documented.
The reason for this is that on a number of occasions, people have been arrested tried, sentenced and imprisoned; then, when nobody is aware, such people have been sprung from jail and spirited out of the country. In other instances, particularly, where security personnel have been involved, they have been so-called “punished”, only to be transferred elsewhere on promotion. It has made the issue of justice in this country a mere mockery.
This is more so when the officers involved are reporting to the so-called, “appointing authority”. In the journalists’ case, it is pertinent that the lawyers in the non-governmental organization, the Network of Public Interest Law (NETPIL), have told the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to act with integrity on the matter, since it is a straight-forward case. This is significant, because the DPP is, of course a Government appointee, and therefore, one of those officers who cannot be vouched to have independence of their professional actions.
In referring to this such, it will appear that the Government is divorced from the people; and therefore, does not act according to their human rights. The matter of the beating of journalists is a direct consequence of the traducing of those people’s rights as covering the tail-end of the recently-concluded acrimonious Arua by-election.
The spokespersons have chosen to propagate a skewed version of the actual events.