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Uganda: Former police commander charged with assaulting journalist

Joram Mwesigye, the police officer accused of assaulting a journalist, inside the courtroom
Joram Mwesigye, the police officer accused of assaulting a journalist, inside the courtroom

Francis Tumwekwasize

This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 18 November 2016.

On 18 November 2016, the Buganda Road Court ordered the former Old Kampala District Police Commander, Joram Mwesigye, to defend himself against charges of assaulting a Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) TV journalist, Andrew Lwanga.

The Presiding Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu ruled that she perused the evidence of the six (6) prosecution witnesses and found it sufficient to warrant the Assistant Superintendent of Police Mwesigye to defend himself.

Mwesigye faces three (3) counts including assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and two others of malicious damage to property.

Prosecution alleges that on 12 January 2015 along Namirembe Road and Bakuli in Kampala, Mwesigye unlawfully assaulted Lwanga and damaged his video camera and that of another Bukedde TV journalist Joseph Ssetimba. The journalists had been assigned to cover a peaceful demonstration of jobless youths who were marching to present a petition to the Inspector General of Police's office in Naguru, a Kampala suburb.

Lwanga sustained spinal injuries from the assault and has since been walking on crutches. He has undergone treatment at various hospitals in the country and abroad. Ssetimba was hospitalized for days as a result of the attack.

Magistrate Kamasanyu ordered that Mwesigye – who is out on bail – should be ready to give his defence on 7 December 2016 when the matter comes up.

“This is a big partial victory for me and the media fraternity at large. I am looking forward to the final day of judgment,” Lwanga told chanting journalists at the Buganda Road Court. Ssetimba said that he had always prayed to this day for the ruling.

“We are very happy that Joram has been put to defence. We hope that justice will be done at the end of the trial. The perpetrators of violence against journalists on duty are still a major challenge to the media in Uganda,” said HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

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