Uganda Elections Approach Amid Hostile Environment For Media

By Committee To Protect Journalists - Africa

Demonstrations against the government are a routine affair in the Ugandan capital Kampala, and Andrew Lwanga thought it would be just another day at work when he was assigned to cover a protest march by a few dozen unemployed youth on January 12, 2015.

He ended the day in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down, after a senior police officer beat him for taking pictures of scuffles between the police and the demonstrators, an attack caught on camera. (According to news reports, the officer was arrested and charged with assault; the case is pending).

Lwanga, a reporter with the privately owned WBS TV, is one of dozens of journalists who have fallen victim to a campaign of harassment and intimidation by authorities in Uganda, where one of Africa's longest-serving presidents, Yoweri Museveni, is biddingto extend his 30-year rule in elections due on February 18.

CPJ has documented a number of tactics the government has used to stifle media freedom, including arbitrary closure of stations which host opposition figures, threats to journalists seen as being critical of the ruling party, and physical assaults.