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Kibaale journalist injured while covering student protest

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - A Kibaale district freelance journalist, Ismail Kasooha, was injured while covering a strike by rioting students at the St. Adolf Secondary School. Kasooha, a freelancer with the "New Vision" newspaper and the Kagadi Based Community Radio (KBCR) station, was reportedly struck with stones by rowdy students, who also pelted stones at their teachers. The irate students staged a violent strike on 19 July 2011, accusing their teachers of harassing them, meting out corporal punishment and failing to account for examination fees. The students claimed they paid 5,000 Uganda Shillings (approx. US$2) for exams but were surprised when the school gave them past papers from Mukono district schools. The strike led to the closure of the school until the reasons for it are addressed by the authorities.

"The stones hit me on the chest and in the stomach. I fell down due to the pain and was rescued by Anti Riot Police officers, led by Daniel Omara, the OC (officer-in-charge) of the Muhorro police station," said Kasooha. He added that he was rushed to a clinic in the town of Kagadi, where he received medical treatment. "It's a pity that journalists in Uganda continue to suffer acts of violence perpetrated with impunity. There is a need to deal with the attitudes of politicians that have negatively portrayed journalists, which we believe has caused this problem," said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairperson Robert Ssempala. HRNJ-Uganda calls upon media proprietors and managers, especially those associated with electronic media, to invest heavily in a media campaign to shape public attitudes.

Kasooha is due to resume work during the week of 25 July.

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