Police has declined to rescind a ban on District Police Commanders, Officers in charge of Police stations, Criminal Investigations Officers and junior officers from speaking to journalists.
Last month, General Edward Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police issued standing orders banning all police officers apart from Regional Police Commanders and Public relations officers from addressing the media.
He warned that unauthorized officers who speak to journalists will be penalized. The directive didn’t go down well with journalists, who accused the police leadership of attempting to hide information.
Journalists in greater Masaka under their umbrella bodySouth Buganda Journalists association –SOBUJA appealed to the police legal department to rescind the decision and allow district police commanders in their region to speak to them since they are familiar with issues in their area.
James Kusemelerwa, a Legal officer at Uganda Police Headquarters says police stands by the standing orders. He says police issued the orders because some unauthorized officers were giving false information, which would impact negatively on investigations and their operations.
Dismas Buregyeya, the Vice President South Buganda Journalists association –SOBUJA says the standing order is affecting their work of news gathering Maxwel Ogwal, the Southern Regional Police commander and PRO Noah Sserunjoji are never available. He explains previously it was very easy to get comments from the District police commanders.
Betty Namukasa, a reporter with Buddu Media Group claims that she is now finding it hard to get crime news from Lwengo and Kalungu districts. She says that the worst thing is that whenever she contacts the Regional Police commander and police spokesperson for verifications, they are always green about crime reports in these areas.
Namukasa is considering stopping to report crime because police is not willing to provide information. Rumanzi Perezi, a Daily Monitor correspondent in Ntungamo claims that Police spokespersons are distorting information on crime.
Noah Sserunjoji, the greater Masaka region Police Spokesperson says as part of the celebrations to mark 100 years, police has pledged to improve media relations and coverage of timely news. He says his department will ensure it gets all reports from around the region in time.