Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Uganda: Photo journalist arrested over alleged publication of defamatory matter

Mukono; 31st/August/2010: Two Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) have arrested the Red Pepper publication limited photo journalist Tony Kizito over alleged publication of a defamatory story by the Kamunye news paper a vernacular sister paper of Red pepper.

Kizito, 28, was arrested at around 11:00am on 30th/08/2010 on his way to Mukono Town council when he was intercepted by the Buikwe RDC Betty Ssemakula who arrested and transferred him to another Mukono RDC Major David Matovu.

A Resident District Commissioner is appointed by the president as his representative at the district. Uganda has more than 110 districts.

On 30th/August/2010 Kamunye News Paper ran a front page story naming top RDCs who have been behind interfering and blocking Buganda King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II from touring his counties. The RDCs included the deputy for Nakawa division Fred Bamwine, Major David Matovu for Mukono district and Betty Ssemakula for Buikwe district.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that Kizito was manhandled during the arrest, lost his camera and had his mobile phone confiscated by RDC Ssemakula.

RDC Matovu and Ssemakula allegedly mobilized hooligans who harassed Kizito before he was taken to Mukono police station. “It’s unfortunate that such public officials could take the law into their hands with impunity. Everybody is entitled to a fair hearing in the courts of law, just that” HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman Robert Ssempala said.

Article 28 (3) a of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by courts of law or until that person has pleaded guilty.

Kizito was transferred to Mukono police station where he was held from Monday 2pm 30th/08/2010, recorded a statement and charged with ‘publishing defamatory matter’. “I was harassed and manhandled by hooligans hired by these RDCs. They forced me to sit on the ground several times on top of being insulted” Kizito said.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) condemns these acts of harassment that were subjected to Kizito in the strongest terms possible. We call upon the office of the president to investigate the behaviors of its staff and other perpetrators and strongly discipline them.

Kizito was released on police bond. HRNJ-Uganda programmes coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala stood surety for him and ordered by police to produce Kizito on Friday the 3rd/08/2010 at 9:00am.

For more information contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road, Mengo- Bulange, Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Preparatory School
Tel: +256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079
E-mail: info@hrnjuganda.org
Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
Blog: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

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