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Two journalists injured during a demonstration

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Jinja, 12 March 2011 - Two journalists have been reported injured in a peaceful demonstration organized by opposition political parties in Jinja town, Eastern Uganda.

David Lukakama, a reporter for Jinja-based radio Voice of Busoga, and Hasfa Nakyanzi, a reporter for Top Television, were covering the violently dispersed demonstration.

Article 29 (d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that "every person shall have the right to freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition."

An eyewitness told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that by the time anti-riot police started firing tear gas from behind the demonstrators most journalists were caught up in the area which was hit most by tear-gas canisters.

"A tear gas canister hit me and I fell down sustaining a big cut on my mouth. I lost a tooth and another one got disfigured," Nakyanzi said. She also fractured her toe.

Nakyanzi was taken to Jinja referral hospital where she received first aid treatment before being transferred to Kadic clinic in Kampala where her mouth was stitched and she received other necessary treatment.

Journalists who were at the scene told HRNJ-Uganda that anti-riot police were targeting television camera persons and photojournalists who were in front of the demonstrators, but the commandant, Jinja District Police commander Jonathan Musinguzi, did nothing to protect the affected journalists.

"Cases of violence against journalists in this period seem to be organized to target frontline journalists. Such moves are intended to scare them off from their messenger work. The commandant of the day, therefore, should be held responsible for abusing the rights of journalists," said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman Robert Ssempala.

When HRNJ-Uganda contacted Musinguzi to give an account of how the journalists were targeted and abused, the police commander denied targeting journalists saying they are his friends.

HRNJ-Uganda condemns such acts of violence against journalists in the strongest term possible and challenges the police leadership to investigate Jinja DPC Musinguzi and take punitive measures to punish him.

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