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Journalist allegedly attacked while trying to interview student in Uganda

A view of Old Kampala, Uganda
A view of Old Kampala, Uganda


The hearing of a case in which a Vision Group Journalist, Mathias Sebwato Kavubu, was allegedly assaulted by Ataremwa Justus, a teacher at Old Kampala Secondary School, commenced on 18 November 2013 at the Law Development Centre Court, with the complainant, Ssebwato, giving his evidence.

"In the process of filming, two people, a woman and a man I later identified as Ataremwa Justus, suddenly turned up, and the woman grabbed my camera, and the accused beat me twice and then subsequently, other people joined him in beating me until I became unconscious," Sebwato testified in Court.

Prosecution led by Agoola Betty alleges that on 17 October 2012, Sebwato – a freelance journalist working with Bukedde television – had gone to Old Kampala Secondary School to interview a senior four (4) student who had allegedly been denied permission to sit her UCE exams under unclear circumstances. He successfully interviewed the girl's parents. However, when he attempted to interview the student, the accused – together with others – pounced on him and started beating him up, before he was locked up in a room, from where he was rescued by Old Kampala police. He says that he sustained bodily injuries and that his video camera was damaged.

The trial magistrate, Lagara Micheal, stood over the matter twice earlier in the day – pending the production of a valid practicing certificate by the defense lawyer, Namulondo Diana.

During cross-examination, Namulondo stressed that the complainant had trespassed into the school, but was advised by the trial magistrate to address the assault, which was the matter before court and not criminal trespass.

The case was adjourned to 3 December 2013 for further hearing. The trial magistrate, however, encouraged the two parties to consider reconciliation.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda is pleased that the hearing of this case has finally commenced and we are hopeful that justice will be dispensed expeditiously.

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