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Uganda: Security guard charged over assault of Red Pepper journalist

On 22 January 2014, a court in Iganga remanded a security guard, Kemba Azizi, 25 years of age, over the alleged assault of a Red Pepper journalist, Solomon Hamala. This was after he denied charges of assault and simple robbery before the Iganga Chief Magistrate Susan Kanyange.

Prosecution led by Aryongo Josephine alleges that on 13 January 2014, Kemba – together with Isiko Yakubu, who is still at large – assaulted Hamala at Iganga Main Taxi Park in the Iganga district, occasioning him grievous body harm and robbery of his digital camera, cell phone and money. Hamala was following up on a story about a demonstration by kiosk owners against the intended demolition of their kiosks by the Iganga Municipal Council authorities.

Kemba – attached to Accurate Services Uganda Ltd – was arrested on 16 January at about 6:00pm local time from his place of work at Walugogo Estate, Iganga Town Council. He was then detained at Iganga Central Police Station. Another suspect, Isiko Yakubu, who eluded police arrest, is still at large.

Hamala told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that the duo, on 13 January 2014, assaulted him using a baton, a bicycle rock and a stick in a scuffle that lasted almost 30 minutes. He was admitted to a nearby clinic in critical condition after sustaining deep cuts and wounds to his head, chest and fingers.

Kemba was remanded to Iganga government prison up until 5 February 2014, when the matter will come up in court.

"We commend the police for carrying out the investigations and ensuring that the suspect was taken to court. The police should also ensure that Isiko is arrested and tried. This will act as a deterrent to other security agents who have severely assaulted media practitioners and blocked them from accessing news scenes," said Robert Ssempala, HRNJ-Uganda's National Coordinator.

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