Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Kabale journalists’ lives in danger

Kabale, 25th/March/2011; The Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC) has threatened a legal suit against two journalists who reported stories in the media that he pulled out a gun to shoot a Umeme staff. The RDC is also alleged to have mobilized communities to attack journalists which the RDC denies.

Umeme is an electricity service provider in Uganda.

Goodluck Musinguzi, a journalist with the New Vision and Robert Muhereza who works for the Daily Monitor wrote stories alleging that RDC Cox Nyakairu pulled out a gun to Umeme staff that had gone to disconnect him over the enormous electricity bill. Nyakairu could not let the staff go until the power was reconnected.

A number of radio stations in the area and national news papers ranging from the New Vision, the Daily Monitor and the Red pepper among others have ran stories about the conduct of the RDC

The Resident District Commissioner is a president’s representative at the district whose constitutional mandate is to monitor the implementation of central and local government services in the district and is the chairperson of the district security committee.

On 25th/March/2011 Nyakairu flanked by his lawyers vowed to take the two journalists to court over defamation and spreading false information. He also accused reporters for being used by his rivals to tarnish his name. The press conference got a massive coverage by radio stations in the region until Monday 28th/March/2011.

HRNJ-Uganda has noted the growing uneasiness for the two journalists due to confrontations received from members of the public.

“Since the press conference I have been confronted on different occasions by members of the public curious about attacking RDC Nyakairu in my news stories” said Musinguzi.

Musinguzi told HRNJ-Uganda researcher that he wrote a well balanced story because whoever was involved in the story was contacted ranging from the RDC to Umeme officials who confirmed that company’s technician called Godfrey Kirembeka was threatened with a gun at the RDC’s home.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that RDC Nyakairu owed Umeme four million eight hundred thousand Uganda shillings (UGX 4.8m) which has accumulated since 2008 the time he was posted in Kabale district.

When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the RDC Nyakairu, he however said he should not be accountable for public reaction towards the duo.

“They have offended the public, my relatives and friends writing negative stories about me. It’s within their rights to express discomfort otherwise am considering taking them to court” said Nyakairu.

“Journalists play an oversight role and they should not be punished for exposing ills in the society. Such good causes should be defended resentfully to encourage other Medias or journalists do their role for the public good” said HRNJ-Uganda programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

Although the RDC has the right to seek legal redress in courts of law but we are concerned about the public reaction in this matter because it’s likely to compromise the security of the journalists

HRNJ-Uganda calls for the quick intervention of the appointing authority and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) to investigate RDC Nyakairu and be punished for the misconduct.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

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