21 February 2011

Africa: The IFJ Condemns Shooting of Journalist Covering Elections

press release

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned today the shooting of a journalist covering the presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda. News reporter, Julius Odeke, freelancing for the Kampala based tabloids The Red Pepper and Raser newspapers was seriously injured after a body guard of the Minister for the Presidency, Ms Beatrice Wabudeya, shot him in a scuffle at a polling station in Budadiri East, Mbale.

"We condemn this barbaric act against the reporter and call for sanctions against the official concerned, said Gabriel Baglo IFJ Africa Director. "This act set a bad example for the election and the Ugandan authorities should ensure that justice is done said Baglo.

The injured journalist was rushed to hospital in Mbale town, about 90 kilometres east of the capital Kampala. He is reported to have lost his camera and other work related materials.

According to EAJA affiliate, the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), the journalist was shot as he went about his work covering the voting exercise in the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections. This happened during a scuffle involving supporters of the Minister against supporters of her main rival and incumbent Member of Parliament, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi, when her body guards opened fire.

Odeke was shot on the knee allegedly by bodyguard of the Minister in the office of the President, Beatrice Wabudeya, who had challenged him why he was taking photos of the Minister and the polling stations. This was after the Minister's supporters and those of his political rival, Nandaala Mafabi, clashed. The two are contesting for the Bidadiri East constituency parliamentary seat.

The Eastern region is highly charged politically and has been voting against the government in the past elections.

"The Ugandan authorities should endeavour to create the minimum conditions for free, fair and peaceful elections that allow journalists to report" said Baglo.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide

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