Police hailed for good relations with media

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In a climate where press freedom is often under threat, the Elgon region  stands out as a beacon of positive collaboration between journalists and law enforcement.

A recent dialogue organized by the African Centre for Media Excellence shed light on the commendable relationship between the media and police in the region.

Veteran journalists Ayub Kirinya and David Mafabi, among others, spoke highly of the professionalism and cooperation demonstrated by the police force.

They emphasized instances where the police responded constructively to negative stories, taking disciplinary action against officers involved in misconduct rather than reacting defensively.

Mafabi recounted an incident where he wrote a story about a police officer allegedly mistreating a suspect on their way to the central police station.

He noted that instead of reacting defensively, the police took disciplinary action against the officer involved.

Yassin Matende, a radio presenter, echoed these sentiments, stating that the police in Mbale hold journalists in high regard and prioritize problem-solving over vindictiveness when faced with critical media coverage.

The testimonies of journalists like Olivia Mukaya further underscored the collaborative spirit between the media and law enforcement, with Mukaya sharing a personal experience of police protection during a volatile situation.

The discipline of the police officers has also been demonstrated during political campaigns when tensions are high.

Police legal officer SP Wabwire Moses Musana attributed the positive relationship to regular sensitization of field officers on media freedom and the significant role of the press in creating awareness on crime as well as advocating for the welfare of police officers.

“As supervisors at the regional level, we are utilizing every opportunity like DPC parades to sensitizing our officers to work with journalists that these are complementary colleagues,” Musana emphasized the importance of mutual understanding and continuous education for both journalists and police to minimize misunderstandings and strengthen collaboration.

Elgon region police spokesperson Rogers Taitika commended the efforts of the African Center for Media Excellence in facilitating constructive dialogue between journalists and law enforcement, recognizing the value of such engagements in addressing potential areas of tension or misunderstanding.

Moreover, the media in Mbale has been instrumental in uncovering security vulnerabilities and advocating against human rights violations by police.

Likewise, media advocacy efforts were crucial in pushing for improvements in the living conditions of police officers, leading to the renovation of houses in the Police barracks.

Furthermore, media reports have highlighted how underfunding significantly hampers various aspects of police operations, exacerbating challenges in criminal prosecution, security operations, and criminal investigations.

A report by ACME covering the period from August 2022 to February 2024 highlighted concerning patterns of violations against journalists and media practitioners. Journalists accounted for the majority of victims, comprising 67% of the 77 reported cases of human rights violations with police topping the list of perpetrators.

However, ACME’s communication and advocacy manager, Apolo Kakaire, revealed that there were no reported violations of journalists’ rights in the Elgon region.

Overall, the positive collaboration between journalists and the police in Mbale serves as a model for constructive coexistence, demonstrating the importance of mutual respect and partnership in upholding press freedom and human rights

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