Television correspondent assaulted
Entebbe, Uganda. June, 22, 2011. HRNJ/– Bukedde television correspondent from Entebbe Kigongo Ssebalamu has been assaulted for covering a village meeting that police was addressing without securing its clearance. Bukedde television is part of the vision group a company with which government owns majority shares.
He was arrested on 20th/June/2011 at 5:30pm at a village meeting to which he had been invited by residents of Kitara, Katabi Sub County Wakiso district to offer coverage. The meeting was intended to resolve matters concerning witch craft where one resident corpol Male Namukangula was being accused of being at the center of the problem.
Eye witness Kato Suleiman told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that Ssebalamu was roughed up and clobbered by a group of police men using batons and gun handles after refusing to stop filming the event.
Kato said, the Officer in Charge of Kisubi police post Ahmed Madiri grabbed Ssebalamu by the collar and slapped him as other police men kicked him.
HRNJ-Uganda has learnt that the arrest and assault of Ssebalamu started after he produced an expired employment identity card and police deemed him unfit to cover the proceedings of the village meeting.
“I was beaten by a group of policemen headed by O/C Kisubi Ahmed Madiri using batons and they badly injured the knee of my right leg. I also sustained injuries and bruises on my shoulder, below the knee on my right leg and the back” Narrated Ssebalamu
He said he was bundled on a police patrol vehicle, had his camera was confiscated and later detained at Kisubi police post for about an hour until his bosses intervened.
Ssebalamu was later charged with incitement of violence and released on police bond.
On receiving information about the incident, HRNJ-Uganda contacted Entebbe District Police Commander Muzafaru Zirabamuzale who said journalists don’t conduct themselves in a decent manner. But he also said, he sent an officer to the ground to ascertain the true details of what exactly transpired.
“We have asked Mr. Ssebalamu to open up an assault case at Entebbe police station; get police form three (3) and go to a medical doctor for diagnosis. It’s a case worth investigating by the police and holding responsible the culprits. Failure will tantamount to HRNJ picking up the issue and most likely we shall take the matter to court.” said Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala
HRNJ-Uganda appeals to the government of Uganda to admit a visit request sent by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to assess the country’s situation since the brutality meted against journalists and other citizens is increasing.