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Arsonists burn Ugandan journalist's home

Goodluck Musinguzi

New York, May 13, 2011--Investigators in Kabale must thoroughly investigate an arson attack on the home of Goodluck Musinguzi, contributor to the state-owned daily, New Vision, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Someone poured gasoline on the house and set it on fire while Musinguzi, his wife, and his newborn child were inside, he told CPJ. Musinguzi, a correspondent for the daily in the southwest border town Kabale, escaped the 2 a.m. blaze with his family but part of his house was destroyed.

Musinguzi filed a report with the police today. Kabale Deputy Police Commissioner Charles Ssembambulidde told CPJ they are investigating the arson and gave Musinguzi with an emergency contact number to call if any further incidents occur. They would not, however, provide him with house security, saying they only had enough manpower to guard banks, Musinguzi told CPJ.

"This horrible attack on Goodluck Musinguzi's house must be treated as an attempt on his life," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "We call on the Kabale police to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of Musinguzi and his family and to thoroughly investigate this arson."

Musinguzi has faced previous threats for his reporting. Last October, the journalist was threatened on the air by the morning presenters at a local radio station, Voice of Kigezi, for his report about two Ugandans who had worked for the station and allegedly crossed into Rwanda and recruited by a rebel group, according to local news reports. The management of Voice of Kigezi planned to dismiss the presenters, the Ugandan Human Rights Network Journalists reported.

He was also publicly accused by a district official of tarnishing his name. The Kabale Resident District Commissioner Cox Nyakairu held a press conference in March and vowed to take Musinguzi and another journalist, private Daily Monitor journalist Robert Muhereza, to court on defamation charges, according to local reports. Nyakairu had also accused Musinguzi of defamation during a radio interview on Voice of Kabale in April, Musinguzi told CPJ.  The resident district commissioner is the president's representative at the district level in charge of monitoring the implementation of local government services and chairs the district security committee. 

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