The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the unwarranted assault of New Vision Photographer, Arthur Kintu, by a businessman and prominent religious leader, Hassan Basajjabalaba which occurred on September, 6th at Namboole while he was covering the elections in Kampala, Uganda.
“It is necessary to investigate this incident and hold this businessman accountable given his track record of attacking journalists,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “It is unacceptable and no one is above the law. We support our UJU colleagues’ pursuit for justice to our colleague.”
On 6 September 2010, around 5:30pm after being informed that Hassan Basajjabalaba, a well known businessman had been re-elected chairperson of the League of Entrepreneurs, Arthur Kintu who had been accredited to cover the elections as a photographer for the New Vision moved closer to him to take his photograph. The NRM Bushenyi district chairman confronted him, demanding to know who had given him permission to take the picture. Kintu responded that as an accredited journalist, he did not need permission to take pictures in the arena. It was at the time when Basajjabalaba sprung from his seat, slapped him while asking him whether he knew who he is.
The journalist was punched him as his aggressor’s supporters looked on and tried to grab his camera- a Nikon D300, which fell down and was destroyed in the process. Kintu walked away bleeding from mouth and reported the case to Uganda Police and visited the Police Surgeon for a medical check up this morning.
This incident occurs barely two months after Mr. Basajjabalaba attacked on July 17 Radio One journalist Ivan Kalanzi as he asked for his comment as the chairman of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council about the meeting between him and the mufti, Sheikh Ramadhan Mubajje which had been cancelled.
According to Lucy Ekadu, President of the IFJ affiliate Uganda Journalist Union (UJU), lawyers have been instructed to press charges for these attacks against journalists before the courts of law.
“It is getting worse towards elections. The only thing we can do is to take on all the cases before the courts of laws. The media monitoring arm of UJU is working with the different lawyers to do this. In fact all journalists roughed up in the course of duty should just inform UJU and we will help them get lawyers at no cost to them. Our international affiliates will cover all the legal fees,” explained Ekadu.
IFJ Calls on Ugandan authorities to put an end to this sort of impunity which is taking hold in the country and urges them to investigate objectively all the cases relating to violence against journalists and media staff in order to punish the attackers and perpetrators in the interest of justice.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide