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Uganda18 January 2002

Journalism student killed by police during an opposition demonstration

Reporters sans frontières (Reporters without Borders - RSF) expresses its dismay and indignation following the death of a journalism student on January 12, 2002. The organization has asked the Ugandan authorities to carry out an in-depth and impartial investigation so that those responsible can be identified and reprimanded. RSF is delighted to hear of the rapid arrest of three police officers, but hopes that the investigation will not stop there, and that full responsibility will be established within the management ranks of the Ugandan police force. Those who authorized the officers to employ real bullets during a demonstration should also be arrested.

On January 12, 2002, Jimmy Higenyi, a journalism student at the United Media Consultants and Trainers (UMCAT), died after being shot in the back by a bullet fired by police in Kampala. The journalist was covering a demonstration organized by the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC, the opposition) in the streets of the capital. His report was for a student project. The government had banned the march under article 269 of the Constitution, which outlaws all political activity in the country. The police, overwhelmed by the crowd, began firing real bullets to break up the demonstration. It was Jimmy Higenyi’s first project as a correspondent on the ground. He is the first journalist to be killed in the course of his duty in 2002.

The same day, at least three journalists - James Akena from the daily New Vision, Archie Luyimbazi and Andrew Mujema from the television station WBS - and several leaders of the UPC were detained for a few hours by the security forces.

A few days later, the chief inspector of the police, Major-General Katumba Wamala, announced that an officer and two constables had been arrested in connection with the murder of Jimmy Higenyi. "The police takes full responsibility" in this affair, the Ugandan police chief stated during a press conference.

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