Attacks Against Journalists During Elections

JOINT ACTION:

24th February 2011

Kampala: Attacks against journalists during elections in Kampala, Uganda condemned

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) are deeply concerned and strongly condemn the recent attacks on journalists during the mayoral elections in Kampala on February 23 2011. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any democracy and the upholding and respect of this right is significant especially during elections.

While Ugandans were voting for their local council chairpersons and district councillors as well as Mayors for municipalities on 23 February 2011, six journalists were reported to have been attacked and beaten during a scuffle that ensued at Kakeeka polling station in Rubaga division in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Kakeeka is the voting station at which mayoral candidate Peter Sematimba of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) was registered to vote.
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Reports indicated that violence was sparked by supporters of Mr. Sematimba when voters started questioning the existence of ballot boxes stuffed with ballot papers at the beginning of the voting exercise.
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It is reported that several ballot boxes were found filled with pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of Peter Sematimba. As a result of this and other widespread malpractices covering other parts of Kampala city, the voting process was suspended by the Electoral Commission.

The six journalists attacked included; Nabazziwa Lydia a reporter from Bukedde TV, Nixon Bbaale a camera man and Brian Nsimbe, a reporter, both from Channel 44 TV, Nabukeera Florence a reporter with Bukedde newspaper, Namatumbwe Christine a reporter and News anchor at Metro FM whose radio recorder, mobile phone and hand bag were all stolen and Jane Anyango, a senior reporter with UBC TV.

The media is a watchdog of society and plays an important role of ensuring accountability and prompting checks and balances. It should be the duty of government to ensure that media persons are not unduly hindered in the course of executing their duties because such attacks, especially during this time of political transition where people must have access to balanced information in order to make informed decisions, has a wide implication on the freedom of expression and access to information in Uganda,” says Hassan Shire Sheikh the Executive Director of EHAHDP. Click here to read the full release.

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