Thursday, January 29, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist violently attacked by police discharged from hospital


WBS journalist Andrew Lwanga on clutches together with UN official Andrew Akutu extreme left and HRNJ National Coordinator Robert Ssempala. 
Kampala, 29th/January/2015; A Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS) Television journalist, Lwanga Andrew who was violently assaulted by the suspended Division Police Commander (DPC) of Old Kampala Police Station, Joram Mwesigye, has been discharged from St. Francis Hospital Nsambya where he was admitted two weeks ago in critical condition.
Much as police had committed to paying his medical bills, Lwanga had to spend two more nights without receiving the police money, prompting Lwanga’s family to clear the bill of approximately UGX 1,500,000 (USD 600). Save for the two police spokespersons, Patrick Onyango and Fred Enanga, the leadership of Uganda police shunned visiting the patient at the hospital. This provoked angry reaction from the journalists and other human rights defenders who kept thronging the hospital.
At the time of his discharge, Lwanga looked weak and could not walk by himself, but with the support of crutches. He is still under continuous treatment and according to doctors, he may soon undergo surgery
Lwanga was first admitted at Mulago National Referral hospital, before being rushed to Nsambya when he collapsed at the Central Police Station in Kampala. Another victim of assault, Joseph Ssetimba of Bukedde TV was also hospitalized with severe chest pain, constant headache and breathing difficulties. He was discharged after two days. Police did not meet his medical bills.
On 12th January 2015, Mwesigye with the aid of other police officers from Old Kampala Police station went on rampage and assaulted journalists who were covering a peaceful demonstration by a group of unemployed youth who were matching to the police headquarters at Naguru, a Kampala suburb to petition the Inspector General of Police. Journalists slapped a media black-out on the police and marched to the police headquarters in protest against the brutality.
Mwesigye was suspended, charged with assault and malicious damage to property; he was released on bail as the trial is going on.
We are happy that the two journalists are now out of danger, thanks to the journalists, media houses, human rights organizations and all the stakeholders who have stood in solidarity with the victim journalists. We want justice to be delivered to the victims through expeditious trial of the culprits.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)

Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala. Tel:
+256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / hrnjuganda@gmail.com
 

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Human Rights activist mobbed up, assaulted in the presence of police


Fort-Portal, 29thJanuary 2015;Gerald Kankya, an activist working with the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), a community based governance organization in Fort-Portal, Western Uganda, was allegedly attacked, assaulted and battered by about 30 club wielding men along Lugard Road in Fort Portal town on the afternoon of 23rd January 2015.

Kankya, a European Union Human Rights activist Award winner for 2011, told HRNJ-Uganda that as he returned from a lunch break with two other friends, a gang of men, clad in‘Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational Schools traffic reflector jackets, accosted them in the presence and on orders of the Fort Portal District Police commander Kahebwa Geoffrey and another police officer identified as Rwatooro.

We tried to run towards Voice of Tooro radio station thinking that the presence of many people would prevent the men from attacking us. Before we could move inside the radio station, the gang of men grabbed me, hit me with their clubs, some boxed me, repeatedly kicked me, and attempted to grab a file I had in my hand which contained a number of TLC documents. During the scuffle, all my colleagues were too scared and ran away leaving me on the ground swarmed by the gang of men. The people around responded by attempting to attack the men who had hit me several times.

Kankya told HRNJ-Uganda that he sustained bruises and a loose tooth. He reported the matter to the police at Fort Portal under case reference number 38/23/01/2015I. He was then given a police medical form to take to a government regional hospital for examination and medication. On returning the form to police, the officers refused to record his statement claiming they were under strict orders from the DPC not to record a statement from him or anyone from TLC on charges related to assault.

When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the DPC Kahebwa, he denied being involved, “Did Kankya say that I beat him up? If he was beaten by police officers, I am responsible, but if he was beaten by his fellow thugs and fools like him, then I am not accountable. In fact he is the one who beat up people because we have assault complaints against him”.
    
HRNJ-Uganda condemns any form of violence against individuals. The police force is mandated by law to keep law and order, to protect persons and their property. It is unfortunate that the DPC feels no sense of accountability or responsibility in this matter. We call upon the police leadership to ensure that Kankya’ statement is recorded and full scale investigations commissioned into this matter.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)

Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala. Tel:
+256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / hrnjuganda@gmail.com

Friday, January 23, 2015

Prosecution witness denies being obstructed by journalist


Mulindwa Mukasa center standing outside court building at LDC court
Kampala, 23rd January 2015; Hearing of a case in which Mulindwa Mukasa, of Associated Press is accused of obstructing Wandegeya District Police Commander continued today at the Magistrate’s Court, at the Law Development Centre in Kampala.

Testifying before Grade One Magistrate Jolly Nkore, Detective Sergeant Mugisa Abas, the second prosecution witness, told court that on the 26 of November 2013, while he was at the police counter at Wandegeya police station, he saw a group of people including Mulindwa Mukasa trying to block a police officer who was taking their colleague Kasule Richard from Wandegeya police station to Central police station.

He said they attempted to pull Kasule and blocked Tinkasiimire from taking him away, and that they were taking photographs and shouting at the top of their voices. He further testified that they were not successful and it was at this juncture when the DPC Julius Caeser came from outside the police station and asked him who these people are. He ordered for the arrest of the ringleader as others walked away. He said the group included a woman. Asked by the Magistrate how he knew that Mulindwa was the ring leader, Mugisa said “he pulled Kasule and when he failed he started taking pictures.”

When asked by the defence lawyer, Catherine Anite, whether the DPC, Julius Tusingwiire was obstructed, Mugisa said, “the obstruction was only against Tinkasiimire. However he added “the accused obstructed the DPC when he disobeyed his orders” but he did not inform court which orders the DPC gave to the accused. When asked if the “group failed to obstruct Tinkasiimire” Mugisa answered yes.”

Mulindwa is accused by the State of obstructing Julius Caeser Tusingwire, the DPC of Wandegeya Police Station from carrying out his lawful duties. The case was adjourned to 25th February 2015 for further testimony from 3 State witnesses.
    
The prosecution should produce all the remaining witnesses so that the case is expeditiously disposed of,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National coordinator Robert Ssempala.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

HRNJ Uganda, Journalists protest police brutality, slap media blackout.



Kampala, 13th January 2015; Cruelty against journalists recurred when police officers attached to Jinja Road Police Station intercepted and pepper-sprayed journalists who were peacefully walking to Police Headquarters at Naguru, a City suburb to petition the Inspector General of Police against the violent attacks on journalists by police officers. Through their umbrella body, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), they had earlier issued a press statement in Kampala, calling for a media black-out against the police force, until action is taken against errant police officers.

During the scuffle, the organization’s National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala and two other journalists were arrested and detained but released without any charges preferred against them after the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner Kampala Metropolitan Police Kasalawo Christopher. They later proceeded to Naguru where they met the Police Director of Operations, Felix Kaweesi to seek for urgent action against the brutal acts of Joram Mwesigye the Division Police Commander (DPC) of Old Kampala Police, station. 

On the 12th of January 2015, Mwesigye assaulted and severely beat up a Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) Television cameraman Lwanga Andrew into coma, and tore the trousers of another journalist Ssettimba Joseph of Bukedde Television, a government owned station. 

During the meeting, Kaweesi apologized and condemned the actions of Mwesigye, saying that they were personal and did not reflect the true image of the police force. He further told journalists that the IGP had ordered for Mwesigye’ immediate suspension, arrest and detention pending investigations into his said gross misconduct. He is currently being detained at the Central Police Station in Kampala. Kaweesi also regretted the incident that occurred at Jinja Road police station against journalists and vowed to take appropriate action.

A meeting between journalists and the Inspector General of Police has been scheduled for 15th January 2015, where a petition against police brutality towards journalists will be presented by HRNJ-Uganda. In the interim, a media blackout against the police will continue.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala. Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail:news@hrnjuganda.org/hrnjuganda@gmail.com/
Website:www.hrnjuganda.org;BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Press Statement: For Immediate release







13th/ January/2015
Press Statement: For Immediate release

A media black-out slapped on the Uganda Police due to worsening brutality against journalists in the country.” Media body announces.

We are rattled by the savage and unprovoked police assault on journalists in the line of duty.

On Monday, January 12, 2015, the Division Police Commander (DPC) for Old Kampala Police Station, Joram Mwesigye rampaged against journalists covering a youth demonstration in the capital, Kampala. He struck a Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) Television cameraman, Lwanga Andrew, with an electric cable on the head and the journalist blacked out.

The uniformed police officer randomly clobbered journalists with electric cables and in a wild anger drove a car with the aim of knocking those who escaped his lashes. He threatened to shoot broadcasters filming his assault.

Instead of transporting the bleeding journalist to hospital, DPC Mwesigye and officers under his command squeezed Lwanga into a car, Registration UAT 150L and heartlessly dumped him in a dirty room at Old Kampala Police Station.

Following a petition by other journalists, the Regional Police Commander James Ruhweza, who supervises Mwesigye, later drove the victim to Mulago National Referral Hospital where he was admitted in a critical condition. Mwesigye also smashed Lwanga’s video camera.

Mwesigye assaulted another journalist, Joseph Ssettimba, who works with the government-owned Vision Group’s Bukedde Television. He beat him with an electric cable which hooked and tore the journalist’s trousers, exposing his underwear. Ssettimba’ video camera too was destroyed. He filed a case of assault and malicious damage to property at the Central Police Station –Kampala.

A digital recorder of a third journalist, Herbert Zziwa working K-FM Radio -a Nation Media Group-owned station, was damaged. Zziwa told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that Mwesigye threatened to shoot him, but could not find his pistol when he reached for it.

This monstrous attack by uniformed police officers, whose constitutional mandate is to protect life and property, lasted for about 10 minutes.

The journalists were covering a peaceful demonstration by a group of unemployed youths marching to the police headquarters at Naguru, a city surburb, to petition the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura. Police arrested some of the demonstrators and confiscated their placards.

The Uganda Police Force has for the last four years emerged as the worst violators of media freedom and journalists’ rights in the country, according to reports compiled by HRNJ-Uganda, despite repeated assurances by the police leadership to stem violence against journalists.

Given the enunciated gross misconduct and abuse of the uniform of Armed Services of the Republic of Uganda, we therefore resolve as follows:

1.      Slap a total media blackout on all activities of or by the Uganda Police Force until DPC Mwesigye is punitive action is taken. This blackout starts with immediate effect.

2.      Demand that Police Disciplinary Committee suspends DPC Mwesigye with immediate effect, and commences investigations into his conduct.

3.      Instituting criminal cases against DPC Mwesigye and his officers who assaulted the journalists in broad day light.

4.      Instituting a civil suit against Mwesigye and his men who violently attacked the journalists.

5.      Petition the Police Council over the Force’ heightened brutality.

6.      Petition the line minister in charge of the Uganda Police Force –Internal Affairs.

7.      Politicians and other leaders should desist from making and promoting hate speech against free and independent media in the country.

8.      Most importantly, the victims should not cut back-door deals with Uganda Police Force because that undermines justice, frustrates those volunteering legal/profession services and doesn't act as a deterrent for other officers.

Implementation of all these resolutions will be incumbent upon the police’s reaction to the situation at hand. Meanwhile, we appeal to all media houses and journalists to continue exposing the force by reporting about their bad deeds during the blackout cover.

For God and Country


Robert Ssempala
National Coordinator