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Ugandan journalist threatened by over 20 men while covering land dispute

A journalist working with the national broadcaster, UBC radio in the Nakasongola district narrowly survived a mob armed with arrows, who surrounded him as he covered a land wrangle. Police fired shots into the air to disperse them. Four days later, however, no arrests have been.

Samuel Kaweesi a reporter with UBC–Buluuli radio was surrounded on 20 September 2013, by over 20 men as he followed up on a land dispute story at Acholi Quarters, Nakasongola Town Council in Nakasongola district in the central region of Uganda.

"I first interviewed the person who claims to own the 47 acre land, and then I went to balance the story by interviewing the tenants who were opposed to the surveying of the land. I first saw two of them, but as I approached, over 20 men armed with arrows emerged ...and surrounded me. They threatened to shoot me, accusing me of working for the police. They confiscated my Identity Card and audio recorder. They also grabbed my photo camera and hit it on the ground. I was alone and too scared. But they ran away when heard gunshots from the police." Kaweesi told HRNJ-Uganda.

“I narrowly survived. Later, I reported the matter at Nakasongola police."

However, the District Police Commander for Nakasongola, Dickson Ayesigomwe, told HRNJ-Uganda that the matter had not been investigated further because Kaweesi had not provided them with concrete evidence. He instead accused Kaweesi of ignoring the police while doing his work, “he made a mistake by going alone without security, yet he knew this was a sensitive matter, and since he could not identify them, it marked the end of the investigation.”

Kaweesi, who is also a correspondent for the Daily Monitor Newspaper, said that he got back his recorder the next day.

HRNJ-Uganda is saddened by the police's reluctance to investigate this matter that risked the life of a journalist at the hands of the Acholi tenants who occupy the land. The police must investigate and arrest the suspects for threatening violence against the journalist. We call on the police leadership to take over this matter and follow it to a logical conclusion.

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