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Uganda: Ruling against journalist’s attacker a rare victory for press freedom

    March 10, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling finding Joram Mwesigye, a senior Ugandan police officer, guilty of assaulting journalist Andrew Lwanga in January 2015, Abdullahi Halakhe, Amnesty International’s East Africa Researcher, said:

    “Today’s ruling is a rare victory for freedom of the press in Uganda. It sends a clear message that attacks on journalists must never be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances. It will hopefully assure people working in the media that the courts are watching; willing and ready to uphold their rights.

    “Press freedom has become increasingly restricted in Uganda with numerous attacks on media outlets seen as critical of the government in the past year. Today’s court decision offers a chink of light in an otherwise bleak outlook and demonstrates that the judiciary is prepared to defend freedom of expression.”

    Background

    Lwanga was covering a protest march against unemployment in the capital, Kampala on 21 January 2015, when a police officer repeatedly hit him with a baton on his shoulders and head until he fell down. As he was falling down, the officer kicked him on his back, damaging his spine.

    He has undergone expensive surgery in South Africa to try to repair his spinal cord, and is awaiting a second operation.

    Lwanga still suffers unbearable pain two years after the attack and has been unable to resume work.