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Photojournalist assaulted at court by district councillor

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kanungu, 24 March 2011 - Patson Baraire, the news editor of Kinkizi Fm and a freelance journalist with "New Vision", was assaulted by the councillor elect of Kanungu town council, Emmy Magezi Byarugaba. The incident occurred while the journalist was covering a court case in the chief magistrate's court.

Kinkizi Fm is owned by Amama Mbabazi, the Security Minister and Member of Parliament for Kinkizi West constituency.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that Baraire is the second person to be assaulted by Byarugaba, who allegedly also assaulted some individuals during the local council elections.

"I attended a court session on 18 March 2011 where Byarugaba and his friend Godfrey Karabeda are facing assault charges. When the case was adjourned, I quickly stepped out to take photos of the suspects. I took the first one and as I tried to take another photo, Byarugaba jumped to grab my camera. When he missed it he started boxing me and I took refuge at the police station opposite the court where the case was being heard," said Baraire.

An eyewitness told HRNJ-Uganda that Byarugaba accused Baraire of photographing him without his permission in the court premises, adding that the district councillor was bitter about what the media has been airing since he was taken to court.

Baraire sustained bodily injuries and was rushed to the Kihihi health center IV where he received treatment.

"A number of journalists have been physically attacked during the election period we are concluding and the organs responsible for enforcing the law have the burden to bring all perpetrators of violence to justice before it is too late. Failing to do so, these institutions will be partly accountable for the growing level of impunity in Uganda," said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

HRNJ-Uganda challenges the Kanungu district Resident State Attorney to quickly impose sanctions since the police has concluded its investigations into the matter.

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