Uganda’s police chief: beating of reporters for their own good
Uganda has space in its prisons to cope with any spike in arrests during next week’s presidential election and the police beat reporters for their own good, senior security officials said on Friday.
Campaigning ahead of the Jan. 14 election, which pits President Yoweri Museveni against 10 other candidates including popstar-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, has been marked by brutal crackdowns on opposition rallies.
In November, 54 people were killed as security forces quelled protests after Wine was detained.
At a pre-election news conference with senior security officials, Uganda’s police chief Martin Okoth Ochola refused to apologise, saying reporters would be stopped from trying to go to areas where their lives could be at risk.
The authorities say Wine’s rallies break laws governing public order and COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.
Dozens of campaign staff working for Wine are being held in a military barracks after authorities defied court orders to release them, Wine’s lawyer George Musisi said on Friday.
He said 118 Wine supporters and staff were arrested on Dec. 30 on Bugala Island.
Military spokeswoman Flavia Byekwaso told Reuters she needed time to study the situation before responding. Prisons service spokesman Frank Baine did not answer a call to request comment.
Uganda’s anti-terrorism laws allow for civilians who commit crimes using weapons that are generally only used by the defence forces to be charged in military courts.