Kampala, 5th/October/2010; Court has dismissed sedition charges against Radio One former presenter Robert Kalundi Sserumaga in light with the constitutional court ruling.
On the 25th/08/2010, the Constitutional Court nullified sections 39 and 40 of the penal code act, which create sedition charges. A panel of five Judges ruled that these sections of the penal code act are unconstitutional and inconsistence with Article 29 (1) of the constitution which guarantees freedom of speech.
Sserumaga was kidnapped and put in a car boot by security operatives on 11 September 2009 after attending a TV show (Kibazo Friday) on Kampala based private television Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS TV). He was then tortured and kept incommunicado for more than eight hours. Sserumaga was later dumped at Central Police station in Kampala where he was kept for three days before being charged with several counts of sedition.
The state accused Sserumaga for making statements that disaffected the person of the president.
He was among the eighteen journalists who lost their jobs under duress during the September riots.
While appearing before Grade One magistrate at Buganda Road Court, Mathias Tumwijukye, the defense lawyer David Mpanga said it was unlawful for court to continue trying the journalist under the law which was scrapped off from Ugandan law books.
Mpanga asked court also to discharge Sserumaga’s sureties namely; Lubaga North MP Betty Kamya, Rubaga South MP Susan Nampijja and activists Richard Mugisha and Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.
Although the attorney general chambers objected to the dismissal, the magistrate Tumwijukye went ahead to dismiss the case.
As a rights protection body, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) applauds court for its decision. “Such court decisions will help the media in Uganda to regain the lost glory as we approach 2011 general election” HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala applauded.
We however, demand that other eight journalists in court on sedition trial be set free.
For more information contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road, Mengo- Bulange, Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Preparatory School
Tel: +256-414-272934 /+256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079
Toll Free helpline: 0800144155