Uganda: Court finds police officer guilty of assaulting journalists

ARTICLE 19 welcomes a court verdict in which a senior police officer was found guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm, for assaulting WBS TV video journalist, Andrew Lwanga who was covering a peaceful protest by unemployed youth in Kampala in January, 2015.

Joram Mwesigye, a former District Police Commander in the capital, Kampala was sentenced to a fine of One Million Uganda Shillings (about 285 dollars) or a one year prison sentence, and ordered to compensate the victim journalist a sum of five million Uganda Shillings (about 1,400 dollars) within thirty days from the date of judgment.

“This judgment has restored a sense of justice for journalists who are victimised because of their work.  Despite the positive ruling by the Magistrate, ARTICLE 19 calls upon national security agencies in Uganda to change their attitudes towards journalists and media workers and view them as partners in development rather than as threats,” said Henry Mania, Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa

In delivering her judgment, Gladys Kamasanyu, the presiding Magistrate at Buganda Road Court mitigated the sentence arguing that the accused police officer is currently under suspension and therefore unemployed, and that the compensatory sum of five million is in addition to the contributions made by the office of the president and the police towards the treatment of the journalist.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes this decision and continues to appeal to Uganda to fulfill its pledges in protecting freedom of expression, promoting access to information and securing the operational environment for journalists and all media workers.