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Ugandan journalist attacked for recording taxi impoundment

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - 7 November 2012 - Yesterday, Ssematimba Bwejiire, a journalist for Radio Simba, was beaten by policemen and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) law enforcement officers for "disorganizing" their work. Bwejiire was attempting to record the officers impounding a commuter taxi that had allegedly defaulted KCCA monthly dues in Mulusanja, a Kampala suburb.

Bwejiire sustained bodily injuries and his property stolen. The journalist was also thrown into a KCCA patrol pick-up truck and driven to the Kanyanya police station, as law enforcement officers roughly stamped their feet on him.

"Over 20 officers from police and KCCA pounced on me and started beating me. They kicked, boxed and slapped me. They accused me of disorganizing their work. They pulled my shirt and tore it. I fell down as I pleaded with them that I was a journalist. They threw me on one of their patrol pick-ups, kept stepping on me and took me to [the] Kanyanya police station where I was detained. I feel a lot of pain on [my] head and chest. I lost my audio recorder and money." Ssematimba told HRNJ-Uganda today.

He was released upon an intervention by the Resident City Commissioner for Kampala, Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, who accused police and KCCA officers of "unprofessional" conduct; Hashaka referred to the incident as "unfortunate." "I will make sure that all the culprits are arrested," Hashaka told HRNJ-Uganda today.

The officer in charge of the Kanyanya police station, Mathias Turyasingura, described Ssematimba as a victim of circumstance and advised him to open up a case. "The file is being handled but no arrests have been made so far," Turyasingura told HRNJ-Uganda.

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