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Anglican bishop assaults photojournalist

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kampala, 8/12/2010 – On 6 December 2010 at about 3:00 p.m., the Anglican Bishop for Western Buganda Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Kefa Kamya Ssemakula, assaulted Brian Luwagga, a photojournalist with "Kamunye" newspaper. "Kamunye" is a Luganda-based affiliate of the "Red Pepper" publication.

Luwagga was photographing the bishop at the Masaka High Court premises, where he had been taken by Christian followers in the Diocese contesting the way his successor had been elected. At one point the bishop grabbed Luwagga by the collar, demanding to know who had given him permission to photograph him.

"He grabbed me by the collar and pressed my neck hard, demanding I ask permission to photograph him. He was joined by the Diocese spokesperson, Rev. Enock Muwanguzi. I told them that I was a journalist but they would not listen. They demanded that I delete the photos, but I refused," explained Luwagga.

The reporter said he was rescued by opponents of the bishop's who were at the court at the time. "When they demanded to know what the matter was, the bishop was scared away and ran to his waiting car and sped off," said Luwagga.

The scuffle lasted about 20 minutes.

The Diocesan spokesperson, Rev. Muwanguzi, defended the bishop. He told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that Luwagga did not introduce himself to the bishop prior to taking the photos.

"The bishop was angered by this man who kept on photographing him right from the court proceedings and followed him all the way to the courtyard. So he demanded to know who this person was. So it's not true that he manhandled and strangled him," said Muwanguzi.

"HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the clergymen's actions against the journalist. We demand that the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rt. Rev. Luke Orombi, intervene and prevail over Bishop Ssemakula and Rev. Muwanguzi. Religious leaders are supposed to be the mirrors of society," said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

"There should be a meeting to reconcile these two key members of society," Ssebaggala added.

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