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Uganda: Supporters of Inspector General of Police Assault Journalist

This statement was originally published on August 10, 2016.

A Bukedde newspaper journalist, Joseph Mutebi was 10th August, 2016 assaulted by  commercial (boda boda ) cyclists  believed to be supporters of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen. Kale Kayihura, while covering them smashing Lawyer Abdallah Kiwanuka’s car. Kiwanuka is representing three complainants in a torture case instituted by private prosecution against the IGP.

“I was taking photos of ‘boda boda’ cyclists smashing lawyer Kiwanuka’s car, suddenly I heard them shouting, that is a Bukedde journalist beat him, they attempted to snatch my camera but was saved by an unidentified man who grabbed it and threw it in the nearby shop while saying this is a journalist don’t beat him,” Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda.

Gen. Kayihura and seven senior police officers were expected to appear before the Chief Magistrate, Richard Mafabi, of Makindye Magistrates Court to answer charges of torture against supporters of former presidential candidate Rtd. Col.  Kizza Besigye. They however did not turn up.

A journalist who witnessed the beating said Gen. Kayihura’s supporters were afraid of Joseph’s coverage of the scuffle. “We were at court, and Kayihura’s goons did not want people to move out of the court premises, they did not want Mutebi to cover the scuffle that had ensued and when he did so, they beat him up,” the witness journalist told HRNJ-Uganda.

Mutebi who was receiving treatment at AAR Health Services told HRNJ-Uganda that he was hit on the head, chest, back, stomach and was now in severe pain.

This comes just two days after supporters of ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party mobbed up journalists at a court in Entebbe who were covering the five party supporters who had been remanded to Kigo Prison on alleged assault of journalist and maliciously damaging their property while covering the recently concluded elections at Entebbe. The Prison’ warden fired in the air to save the journalists from the rowdy mob. The HRNJ-Uganda’ Robert Ssempala and other journalists were injured in the process

“We condemn the actions by the commercial cyclists and the security personnel for beating up journalists who are the eyes and ears of the public. We implore the Uganda Police to investigate the cases expeditiously and bring the perpetrators to book. Mob justice should be fought by the State” said Robert Ssempala the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator.

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