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Death of Ugandan Journalist Prompts Calls for Justice

  • Michael Onyiego

International press groups are calling for justice after a Ugandan journalist was beaten to death by an angry mob.

On Saturday, September 11th, Uganda freelance journalist Paul Kiggundu was killed while shooting video for local Christian radio and television station Tower of Praise near Kalisizo, in southwestern Uganda. Kiggundu was filming a crowd of motorcycle taxi drivers as they demolished the house of a fellow driver who had been accused of murder and robbery.

Although Kiggundu identified himself as a journalist, he was accused by the group of working for the police and was attacked. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but died of internal bleeding before he arrived. Kiggundu was buried on Sunday, leaving behind a wife and two young children.

Kiggundu's death has prompted calls for justice from press freedom groups around the world.

The East Africa consultant for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Tom Rhodes, offered condolences to Kiggundu's family and called for Ugandan authorities to thoroughly investigate his death.

"Even though he had told the boda-boda drivers he was a journalist and he was recording it for TOP Radio, they still beat him to death," Rhodes said. "We hope that the guys who did this are brought to justice. We are calling on the Ugandan authorities to do their utmost to make sure that these guys who committed this crime are rounded up and investigated."

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders also condemned the killing and urged the Ugandan government to "deal severely with those responsible, so that such incidents do not recur."

Tom Rhodes says that police are investigating Kiggundu's death, but that they have yet to make any arrests.

While generally seen as democratic, Uganda imposes some restrictions on the media. Journalists have been forbidden by the government to write about the recent terrorist bombings in Kampala that left more than 70 dead, and Rhodes says he is concerned that a similar crackdown might be imposed on the media ahead of national elections scheduled for February and March of next year.

But Rhodes praises Uganda's judiciary for lifting a sedition law last month that he says restricted freedom of speech in the east Africa nation. The law was lifted after a petition was filed on behalf of prominent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, who was charged with violating the law. The High Court heard Mwenda's case and ruled that the sedition law was unconstitutional.