Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo journalist evacuates family over threats by a government official

Mukono, 22nd/Sept/2010; A photo journalist working with the Red pepper publication, Tony Kizito has feared for the lives of his family following numerous direct threats from the District Resident commissioners (RDCs) in Mukono and Buikwe, in the central region of Uganda.

The RDCs are the president’s representatives in a given district and perform duties on behalf of the president. They are public servants.

Article 203 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda sets the overall duty of an RDCs as to monitor the implementation of central and local government services in the district.

Kizito, 28, has since then been receiving threatening phone calls from Major David Matovu and Betty Ssemakula accusing him of tarnishing their names. They demanded that he writes an open apology and be carried on the front the same paper, or else his life would be doomed.

“I have received threatening calls from the two RDCs demanding that I make an open apology to them in the paper or else my life was doomed”, Kizito intimated to the HRNJ-Uganda.

Matovu has reportedly been propagating hate campaigns while appearing on various local radio stations and mobilizing the public against him.
“The RDC has been on the radios and at various forums mobilizing hooligans to attack me”, Kizito adds.

He says he had to evacuate his family of three including a mother who has just given birth less than a month ago and a 3year old girl to an unknown place for safety.

The RDCs being the heads of security in all district in Uganda most often have miss used this power and directed police and other security agencies to do whatever is in their favors.

HRNJ-Uganda learnt that at one time Maj. Matovu tasked the area local leader of the village to ensure that Kizito appears before him. Did the same to Kizito’s landlady
When contacted by the HRNJ-Uganda team, Maj. Matovu could neither deny knowledge of intimidating and threatening Kizito nor own up. “Am not bothered by his journalistic work. If you want more, you can talk to his fellow journalists in Mukono district”.

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 then arrested Kizito and took him to Mukono police where he was released on bond.

Efforts to talk to the line minister, Hon. Beatrice Wabudeya the Minister in charge of the presidency in Uganda were futile as her cell phone was off.

“This is gross abuse of power by the RDCs who should know better how to raise a complaint or open up a case if aggrieved through proper channels other than making threats to people’s lives”. Said the HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman Robert Ssempala

HRNJ-Uganda condemns such acts in the strongest terms and calls on the president who is the appointing authority to prevail over such errant public officers who are bent on instilling fear and threaten violence amongst the watchdogs of society- the media personnel.

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
Blog: http//

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