Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HRNJ-Uganda alert: Radio talk show hosts questioned over hosting opposition leader

Kampala, 7th/June/2011; The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has questioned two radio talk show hosts for hosting the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Dr. Kiiza Besigye.
Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi who hosts KFM’s ‘Hot seat’ and co-host Bernard Tabaire were interrogated at the Naguru based Special Investigation Unit for more than one and a half hours. They were flanked by the Daily Monitor lawyer James Nangwala and Company secretary Ms. Anne Abeja.
SIU is a newly established department in Uganda Police Force (UPF) whose mandate is not statutory based and powers not known.
The duo was first summoned by SIU on 23rd/May/2011 to reportedly help police in its investigations into the activities of a new pressure group ‘Activists for Change’.
Activists for Change (A4C) is a loose coalition for human rights activists and politicians formed to draw government’s attention to the current sky-rocketing fuel and commodity prices.
Since April 2011 when A4C started its activities, more than ten unarmed Ugandans have been shot and killed and hundreds injured. Journalists suffered the wrath of the military and police during the Walk to Work protests and previous ones. Dozens were physically attacked, shot, intimidated, equipment confiscated by security operatives and their recordings erased. Some media offices and printing press were also raided.
A letter signed by SIU Commandant Grace Akullu outlined that police had opened a General Inquiry File Number 52/2011 and requested that the K fm duo be interviewed and compelled to record statements.
Human Rights Network for journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that the duo provided the recordings to the police and was questioned by two detectives namely; Felix Tulihamwe and Balaam Bwengye.
“We were interrogated separately and ordered to record statements. The detectives pushed questions which were intended to force us reveal what transpired outside the studio but we insisted and referred them to the recordings of the talk show” said Mwanguhya
He said such police actions will not deter them from performing their watch dog function.
The number of journalists who have appeared before the SIU is now three. Prior to this Daily Monitor journalist Tabu Butagira was also questioned over an interview he conducted with Dr. Kiiza Besigye which was later published by the paper.
“The media work is being endangered by police actions since it’s used as a source of information to incriminate some members of the public. I fear that such actions will trigger attacks against the media from the public” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.
HRNJ-Uganda demands that police should desist from compelling media practitioners in its investigations and witnesses.
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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