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Radio journalist shot by anti-riot police while covering opposition march

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kampala, 4 May 2011 - Anti riot police shot a radio Simba journalist, Christine Nabatanzi, with a rubber bullet. Nabatanzi, 24, was shot in the right leg while covering opposition Democratic Party (DP) supporters who were celebrating the release of their leader, Norbert Mao, on 2 May 2011.

The wounded Nabatanzi covered the celebrations from Nakawa court, where Mr. Mao had been released unconditionally, after spending a fortnight in prison. Supporters walked towards Kampala, Uganda's capital, until they were intercepted by anti riot police at Lugogo. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the walking supporters.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that the anti riot police targeted journalists who were covering the brutal attack on supporters.

"I was targeted by police; when they started dispersing supporters I ran, but they shot in my direction. I realized that I had been shot after seeing blood flowing from my right leg in the flower garden where I had taken cover. The garden was about 50 kilometers from the battle scene. I also had a tear gas canister fall near my head," said Nabatanzi.

The journalist said she called her boss, who took her to Mulago national referral hospital, where she could not be attended to by medical personnel. Nabatanzi was later transferred to Kampala Medical Chambers clinic, where doctors discovered hard particles in her heavily bleeding wound.

"All commanders of security institutions should be brought to justice by international courts for brutalizing Ugandans and journalists. We are convinced that national courts have failed to try these commandants due to obvious reasons," said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

He said since the nation-wide walk to work protest started, front line journalists have been targeted and brutalized by security organs accusing them of supporting protesters and inciting violence.

HRNJ-Uganda demands that the commanders of the security forces, including the police and army, be investigated and brought to justice.

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