Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU) representing journalists covering Uganda for foreign media organisations has condemned the arrest and intimidation of journalists covering the Makerere University students’ tuition protest.
The week long protests have paralyzed business in and around the varsity as students decried a policy that sanctioned a 15 percent cumulative increment on tuition over the next five years.
On Tuesday however, police arrested three journalists and drove them to unknown destinations.
The three include; Lawrence Kitata of Bukedde newspaper, Chris Ssemakula of BBS television and another believed to be a BBC correspondent.
A NBS journalist Canary Mugume also had his camera snatched while reporting live from the campus.
Last week, FCAU said in a statement, at least 15 journalists were teargassed for providing coverage during a press conference called by student leaders. The reporters said police forced them to delete material of students with disabilities being arrested.
The officers also tried to apprehend a URN journalist.
Education Minister and First Lady Janet Kataaha Museveni accused foreign journalists of being paid to tell lies.
The FCAU has called for an end to assault, intimidation and arrest of journalists trying to cover the happenings at Uganda’s oldest university.
After a lengthy meeting with student leaders on Tuesday however, the university council agreed to do away with the policy for the next three years.
“The 15 percent adjustment in fees shall not apply to functional fees for the remaining period of implementation of fees structure adopted in July 2018. Functional fees shall be capped at the rate applied on the admission cohort for 2019/2020 academic year for the next three years,” a statement signed by the council chairperson Ms Lorna Magara and the council secretary Mr Yufuf Kiranda read in part.
The council wants two university officials investigated for student brutalization and authorizing military raids. The two are Gordon Murangira, the Personal Assistant to the Vice Chancellor and Prof. Eria Hisali, the Principal of College of Business and Management Sciences.
“That the allegations of threatening and battering students are taken seriously and need to be investigated. The chairperson of the council needs to communicate the matters of alleged threatening and battering of students to the vice chancellor,” the statement continued.
Suspended students will also be allowed to sit for their exams as the student’s disciplinary committee probes the cases.
President Yoweri Museveni has since ordered for the withdrawal of military police from Makerere University.
“This morning, the President has spoken to the university council chair and the guild president, urging them to meet. He has also ordered the withdrawal of the military police from the university. The Uganda Police will maintain law and order,” senior presidential press secretary, Mr Don Wanyama said on Tuesday.