Sunday, May 1, 2011

Journalists expelled from court

Kalungu, 27th/April/2011, Kalungu Grade II magistrate Elijah Musolo has expelled two female journalists from his court who had gone to cover a robbery case.
Matridah Nabukalu a reporter for Eddoboozi news paper and Betty Namukasa a reporter for Masaka based radio Buddu were expelled for writing notices without the magistrate’s permission.
They were covering a robbery case involving economically powerful individuals who were allegedly accused of robbing boda boda cyclists in the district. Boda boda is a commercial motor cycle business which has spread throughout the country
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that the magistrate suspended court business for about 15 minutes when he saw the two journalists taking notes.
“He called my colleague Namukasa in front of the full to the capacity court to explain why she was taking notes. Namukasa replied that she was a journalist working for Buddu fm and journalists were free to attend and cover court business. Then Mr. Musolo asked for her Identity Card. As Namukasa was going to pick the ID from her bag which was left in her seat, Mr. Musolo ordered all of US to get out of court” Nabukalu explained.
Nabukalu said they pleaded to the magistrate through an officer from Uganda Prison Service who was at the court at the time to allow us attend court but in vain.
“We gave our IDs to the prison officer to prove to the magistrate that we were journalists but when they reached him (Mr. Musolo) he instead threw them out” said Nabukalu
HRNJ-Uganda in 2010 documented a similar case where two journalists namely; Namuwonge Hanifah a reporter for Bukedde fm and Nabukalu Matridah a reporter for Eddoboozi  were expelled from grade II magistrate court in Ssembabule district for taking notes with permission by the presiding magistrate.
“It’s appalling that rights and freedoms of journalists can be abused in the temple of justice.  The space under which media practitioners in Uganda practice safe journalism is being reduced to nothing every new day” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.
HRNJ-Uganda demands that the leadership of the Judiciary should investigate the conduct of the magistrate and be punished.
We demand that Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) should intervene in the matter and make its pronouncement on these violations.
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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