Journalists walk past a police van during the Work-to Work protest in Kasangati last year. A security operative who shot at Daily Monitor photojournalist Isaac Kasamani, on Tuesday was travelling in the same van. Photo by Isaac Kasamani

Leading global media institutions that work to safeguard press freedom have joined this newspaper’s editorial leadership in condemning Tuesday evening’s police shooting at Daily Monitor photojournalist Isaac Kasamani.

The global media entities are pressing for a full investigation into the incident in which Mr Kassamani was shot at by an unidentified security operative travelling in a police van with registration plate UP 1928 as he covered an opposition procession.

“We demand a thorough investigation into the shooting,” said Mr Mohamed Keita, the Africa Advocacy Coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“It is deeply disturbing that our colleague Isaac Kasamani should come under fire from a police van while reporting on the actions of Ugandan security operatives.”

This newspaper’s Executive Editor, Mr David Sseppuuya, said a formal protest note would be issued to the Police, which now stand indicted for several incidents of harassment of journalists, most especially those that have covered the Force’s recent violent crackdown on demonstrations.

“We condemn the harassment of journalists whose rights are part of the wider civil and human rights that every citizen should enjoy and that should be protected by the State,” Mr Sseppuuya said. “It is the duty of the State to do this. So if it is the agents of the State that are undermining these rights, then it is very unfortunate.”

Recounting the horrifying incident, Mr Kasamani said: “I was about seven metres away from this police van from which a teargas canister had been thrown near [FDC leader Kizza] Besigye’s car. I saw the door of this van open and in a split second one of its occupants shot in my direction, closed the door and sped off very fast. The bullet missed me narrowly as I was bending down to take the picture but I saw the sparks in my face. I was startled.”
Although it is still not clear whether any formal investigation has been launched, deputy police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba yesterday offered her two cents on the issue.

“Please advise [Kasamani] to go and report to the police Professional Standards Unit,” she said. “Definitely they will have to investigate this matter but personally I haven’t received any report on this.”

Incidents of alleged brutality by security forces against journalists are responsible for plunging Uganda 43 places lower in the latest press freedom ranking by the Paris based Reporters Without Borders.

Local entities, the Human Rights Network for Journalists and the Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda have also joined their voices in condemning Tuesday’s shooting.

Since April, 2011, when the Walk-to-Work protests started, several journalists and media houses have reported incidents of harassment by security personnel.

Already, President Museveni has vilified reporters covering the police’s crackdown of the demonstrations.

By Emmanuel Gyezaho, Daily Monitor

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