IPI condemns the alleged attack on a photojournalist working for the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda. The reporter was allegedly shot at by a police officer while covering an opposition demonstration in Kampala, according to a first-person account in the newspaper and a report from the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda).
Isaac Kasamani was covering a demonstration by opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye on 24 January when police threw a tear gas canister toward the protestors, presumably to disperse them; when Kasamani bent down to photograph it, an officer fired in his direction and then sped off, he reported in the Daily Monitor.
According to HRNJ-Uganda, two other journalists who also witnessed the alleged attack on Kasamani were attacked by police. Bukedde television journalist Suleiman Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda that he was roughed up by a policeman who tried to take his camera. AFP photographer Michele Sibiloni, an Italian citizen, said he was jumped by two police officers who also tried to take his equipment, HRNJ-Uganda reported.
“We call on the Uganda police to investigate each of these grave claims of mistreatment and unprofessional conduct,” said IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills. “Journalists must be free to cover pubic events without fear of assault and harassment.”
The latest attacks are part of an ongoing trend in Uganda in which journalists covering opposition politicians are targeted by security forces. Last week, HRNJ-Uganda reported that three journalists were injured while covering the arrests of opposition figures in Kampala; two of the three said that they had been attacked by police.
In April and May last year, opposition politicians and their followers took to the streets to protest against rising fuel prices and the cost of living. The demonstrations did not gain lasting traction, but were characterised by attacks on protestors and journalists covering the demonstrations.