International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
21 February, 2011
IFJ Condemns Shooting of Journalist on Election Day in Uganda
The international Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today condemned the shooting of a journalist on polling day for the general elections which took place last week in Uganda. Freelance journalist Julius Odeke who writes for the Kampala based tabloids The Red Pepper and Raser newspapers was seriously injured after a bodyguard of Minister in the President’s Office, Ms Beatrice Wabudeya, shot at him in a scuffle at a polling station in Budadiri East, Mbale.
“We condemn the use of excessive force which put journalists’ lives at risks and call for an investigation into the incident,” said Gabriel Baglo IFJ Africa Director. “Security forces should restrain from endangering actions which endangers the safety of members of the public, including working journalists.”
The injured journalist was rushed to hospital in Mbale town, about 90 kilometres east of capital Kampala. He is reported to have lost his camera and other work related materials.
According to EAJA and IFJ affiliate, the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), the journalist was shot as he went about his work covering the voting on the general elections day on 18 February. The incident happened during a scuffle involving supporters of the minister and those of her main rival and incumbent Member of Parliament for the Bidadiri East seat, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi, during which her bodyguards opened fire.
Odeke was allegedly shot after the two groups clashed by bodyguards of minister Beatrice Wabudeya, who had challenged him for taking photos of the minister at the polling station.
“It is unacceptable that a journalist be attacked for carrying out his legitimate activities,” added Baglo. “ This was a senseless act which could have had tragic consequences.”
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide