Eight Ugandan journalists were detained as they marched in Kampala to protest what they said were police abuses, including beatings and detentions, during coverage of student protests last month, a rights group official said.
The alleged abuses took place over several days starting on October 22 after students at Uganda’s largest public university, Makerere, protested against planned fee increases.
A group of journalists marching to police headquarters where they intended to deliver a petition were intercepted.
Flavia Diana Nandudu, a programmes officer at Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U), told Reuters eight journalists were arrested and released hours later.
“We wanted to demand from police leadership they parade and prosecute police officers involved in assaulting journalists,” Nandudu said.
Police spokesman Patrick Onyango said the journalists were released but refused to explain why they were arrested.
The government of President Yoweri Museveni has over the years been accused by rights groups of rights violations including violent crackdowns on opposition activists and intimidation of journalists.
In power since 1986, Museveni (75) is widely expected to stand at the next polls in 2021 and is seen facing strong opposition from pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused government of using disproportionate force to quell protests and condemned attacks on journalists.
“The Ugandan government should urgently carry out fair and transparent investigations and hold accountable security forces using excessive force,” HRW said.