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Journalist assaulted while covering land dispute at Ugandan court

This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 2 September 2016.

On 31 August 2016, Madiinah Ssebyala of Bukedde Paper was assaulted by Kasagga Swaibu. Kasagga further threatened to inflict Madiinah with more harm if she continues to cover a land case where he accuses Kenneth Mukiibi of selling him land and failing to offer the land title.

“As I was coming out of Mukono Magistrates court, Kasagga held me by the shoulder and started pulling me, he warned that I should stop covering his case or else I will face problems,” Madiinah told Human Rights Network for Journalist-Uganda in an interview, adding that she was saved by commercial cyclists (boda boda) who had parked near the court and witnessed the incident.

Sserumaga Moses, a correspondent for Kamunye – a local dialect tabloid in Mukono District – told HRNJ-Uganda that he saw Madiinah crying right after the alleged assault. Madiinah opened up a case of threatening violence at Mukono Central Police Station.

She indicated that this was the second time that Kassaga had attacked her. “On 20th June 2016, when I was taking photos at the same court, Kasagga grabbed my camera and threatened to crash it if I did not delete the pictures I had taken. Out of fear and intimidation, I deleted them,” Madiinah told HRNJ-Uganda.

“We are profoundly concerned by the actions of Kassaga taking advantage of a female journalist who was simply doing her work. Cases of assault against journalists covering cases at court are on the increase. The public should respect the rights of journalists. We shall follow up this matter to its logical conclusion,” said Robert Ssempala, the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator.

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