Damba Wiziri, a Vision Group journalist based in Mbarara District filed a complaint of assault, simple robbery and threatening violence at Sheema Police Station vide SD REF. 49/01/2018 on the 1st August, 2018. The suspects in the matter are Robert Baijuka, Charles Tashorora, Godwin Arikwera and Coled Twesigye.
Damba told the HRNJ-Uganda team that visited him led by the Executive Director Robert Ssempala that on 30th July 2018 at about 2:30 pm at Kabwohe in Sheema District near Integrated Community Based Initiative (ICOBI), he was assaulted while covering a demonstration of supporters of Forum for Democratic Change Candidate for Sheema Municipality Parliamentary Seat Virginia Mugyenyi were were protesting the results of the election lost to Honorable Elioda Tumwesigye.
“While covering the demonstration on a boda boda, Baijuka Robert grabbed me from the back and threw me down demanding that i stop covering delete the footage. He pulled me inside the ICOBI premises and started beating me up threatening that he will cut me with a panga. He was joined by Tashorora and Coled Tumwesigye,” Damba told HRNJ-Uganda adding that this incident happened in the presence of the District Police Commander…. who watched while he was being beaten.
Damba sustained injuries around the neck, chest and hands. He was taken to Kabwohe Health Centre IV and later transferred to Mayanja Memorial Hospital while unconscious. He also lost his camera, phone and other belongings during the brawl. Fortunately, by the time of the visit, he had been discharged from hospital and was recovering steadily.
By the time the HRNJ-Uganda team left Sheema three witnesses had already recorded statements.
Meanwhile, this was the second time the journalist was being assaulted in a span of 3 days. On the 27th July, 2018, Damba was harassed and assaulted by Amanya Jordan, the sub county chief of Rugarama in Sheema district , while covering the electoral process at Kikonko Primary School.
“This unfortunate incident continues to mirror the numerous human rights violations in the form of intimidation, harassment and violence that media practitioner experience in their line of work that adversely continues to undermine the freedom of expression and media rights. We urge Journalists to unite and pursue justice for their victimized colleagues. I condemn in the strongest terms possible, the continued intimidation and harassment of journalists by private citizens and the state actors.” Remarked the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Mr. Robert Ssempala.