Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Journalist threatened for his reporting

13 December 2011

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, December 9, 2011 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the safety of Kenyan reporter Robert Wanyonyi, who has been repeatedly threatened after covering a melee between police and local villagers that left as many as seven people dead.

On December 5, Wanyonyi, a reporter in the city of Bungoma West for The Standard and for the Nairobi-based private broadcaster Kenya Television Network (KTN), was called to Sirisia village in western Kenya to cover a violent fracas. Villagers had killed two people who had broken into the Namang'ofulo Coffee Factory to steal coffee, according to news reports. That set off a violent confrontation between villagers and local authorities who started firing at the crowd and killed four people, news reports said. Police even shot at Wanyonyi's car, the journalist said. He managed to avoid the attack and wrote two stories that night detailing how the robbery took place, he said. In the December 5 KTN broadcast, local residents claimed that District Commissioner Paul Merinyang was behind the attempted theft, news reports said.

On December 8, after Wanyoni wrote a follow-up story on the incident, an unidentified caller phoned him and told him to stop reporting on the district commissioner or "We will kill you and see whether KTN will bury you," the journalist said. The same day, Wanyoni was followed by two police officers when he returned to Sirisia village to conduct follow-up interviews, according tomember of Parliament Musikari Kombo, who was traveling with the journalist. Wanyoni said he was able to record the license plate of the police car.

On December 9, another anonymous caller told Wanyoni that he was "lucky" he had other people in his vehicle the previous day since their presence saved his life. The journalist said his email had been hacked and that he was now in hiding because of the threats.

"It is outrageous that Robert Wanyoni, who was simply doing his job, was subjected to intimidation and harassment by police," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "CPJ calls on authorities to make a credible investigation into these threats and allow Wanyonyi to carry out his work without harassment."

In November, investigative KTN editor Mohammed Ali received death threats after he aired a series of stories on officials' complicity in the drug trade, along Kenya's coastline, according to local reports.

For more information:
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@) cpj.org
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hearing of a case lodged four years ago hits a snag

 Kampala, 8th/Dec/2011; Hearing of case lodged with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)
 Court four years ago by journalists has failed to take off under unclear circumstances.
A case in which journalists protested brutal attacks by police and other security  agencies had been fixed for hearing on  December 9th 2011 at 9 00am local time at the Commission premises on Buganda Road. The complainants received summons for the slated date.

In 2007, journalists  including Sam Kayiwa working with Power FM, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala formerly working with Radio Sapientia and Ssemakula Richard formerly working with Bukedde newspaper among others went to the Commission tribunal demanding for investigation into the violations against journalists’ press freedoms and rights. They also urged the Commission to take punitive measures against culprits including compensation for the victims.

The journalists alleged in their complaint that while covering both treason and murder trials of the opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Changes (FDC) Dr. Kizza Besigye and  the 13 Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) suspects at high court in Kampala and Bushenyi, security forces sieged court and in an attempt to re-arrest the suspects who had been granted  bail, most journalists were beaten, their equipment and valuable items like money were  compulsorily confiscated and others were blocked from accessing  the court premises.

A complaint file UHRC 52/2007 was opened against the Attorney General for violations of freedoms and rights of the affected journalists.
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has discovered that the matter was not cause listed for the said session and the witnesses were erroneously summoned to appear before the tribunal on the stated date because the file was allegedly not allocated to a particular Commissioner at the Human Rights court.

Officials at the commission told HRNJ-Uganda that the summoned journalists will have to wait until the next Tribunal sittings which are slated for February 2012.
 “This has come way too late when memories of the victims and the general public to whom the media reports to are fading away.  However, it is still not too late for the Commission to deliver justice to the victims.  Most of the perpetrators have since been transferred or have earned promotions within the security forces, but we pray and hope that this will not act in their favor or jeopardize the proceedings.
We are looking forward to seeing Uganda Human Rights Commission deliver justice in a more expeditious manner” Said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairperson Robert Ssempala  He added that justice delayed is justice denied but we hope that one day we shall see  that justice. It has been an eon of giving up but suddenly there seems to be some hope.

 HRNJ-Uganda is concerned about the increasing restrictions on media freedoms particularly regarding the rights and liberties of expression, speech, conscience and association.
 We demand that the commission should expeditiously handle cases of Human Rights abuses because our fear is that this prolonged delay occasions a miscarriage of justice to the aggrieved parties and is not commensurate to the principles of natural justice and International Human Rights Instruments to which Uganda is party.

 For More Information Contact;
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
 P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
 Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
 E-mail: news@hrnjuganda.org
 Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
 BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Uganda police blocks a good intentioned demo over murdered journalist

Kampala, 8th /Dec/2011; Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is
dismayed with the unfair treatment from Uganda Police against families and friends of
late Charles Ingabire who wanted to express grief and solidarity against the brutal
killing of Charles and other Rwandese who have succumbed to this kind of gruesome

Charles IngabireRIP, the editor of the Kinyarwanda Online media Inyenyeri magazine was
gunned down by unidentified assailants on the 30th of November 2010 in the gardens of
Makies 2 Bar along Sir Apollo Kaggwa, a Kampala suburb. However, fear has mounted onto
both Rwandan community and journalists in Uganda over the increased operatives spying on
their work. Ingabire is suspected to have been killed because of his journalistic work.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 additional Protocols are the cornerstones of
modern refugee protection wherein government guarantees the basic Human Rights and
physical security of the refugees. Therefore, the government of Uganda bears the prime
responsibility for protecting refugees within its territory and this includes promoting
and providing legal and physical protection, and minimizing the threat of violence
including deaths which many Rwandan refugees are prone to.

The committee set up by the community of Rwandan Refugees and Asylumseekers in Uganda had
sought protection while holding a peaceful demonstration on 8th of December between 10:00
am to 12:00pm en-route from Kisementi roundabout, through Kanjokya Street to Prince
Charles drive where they would petition the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Refugees to look into their grievances.
A letter dated 6th/Dec/2011 was written to the Inspector General of Police, Major
General Kale Kaihura seeking for protection while peacefully demonstrating against the
alarmingly rampant activities of intelligences that spy on their work in Uganda and the
killings of Rwandan Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

The assassination of CHARLES INGABIRA epitomizes several other killings and security
threats to the Rwandese community. The demonstration further sought to call on the
International Community, especially UNHCR, the United Nations body in charge of
protection of refugees and human rights defenders and the Government of the Republic of
Uganda, the host country to take effective measures in ensuring the safety and protection
of Rwandese refugees, journalists and other human rights defenders. The demonstrators
also wanted UNHCR to desist from riding roughshod to serious concerns of security threats
and death of Rwandan refugees.

Also, the demo ultimately calls for vigilance, independence and thorough investigations
by police and all other relevant security agencies into mishaps against Rwandese. These
investigations should ensure that the cases are handled to their logical conclusions with
the perpetrators being brought to book.
HRNJ-Uganda was reliably informed that Ugandan police force dilly-dallied with the
leaders who had gone to police headquarters on 7th/Dec/2011 to secure protection.

One of the leaders told HRNJ-Uganda that they reportedly went to police four times and
appeared before different offices as they were being asked to go back after every three

“Whenever we would go to police headquarters, officers there were telling us that nothing
has matured and that’s how the day went without getting protection” said one leader whose
name is withheld for security purposes.
Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that by 18:00 local time on 7th/Dec/2011, there was still no
response until the Inspector General of Police intervened, made a private call to the
Rwandese leaders and managed to coerce them to postpone their intentions for a few days
as they partake investigations into the matter in a meeting that lasted up to 21:00
o’clock. The IGP asked them to be patient and promised to grant permission at a future

“We were not surprised to hear that police blocked the demo. From our experiences with
the Uganda Police Force, this is a normal routine! It was a hectic wild goose chase that
yielded no result. The police’s response exhibits the high handedness, partisan, and
repressive role the police is playing in abrogating the Constitution most especially
Article 29 which provides for freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration” said
HRNJ-Uganda Programs Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-Uganda reiterates its former position that called for intervention from independent
bodies like Interpol to investigate the gruesome murder of Charles Ingabire fearing for
country relations that would jeopadise investigations.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail: news@hrnjuganda.org
Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Friday, December 2, 2011

Journalist shot dead

RIP Charles Ingabire who was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Kampala
Kampala, 2nd/Dec/2011; unidentified gunmen have shot dead Charles Ingabire the editor of Rwanda’s Inyenyeri news paper.
Ingabire 32, a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame was reportedly shot on November 30 at Makies 2 Bar in Bukesa, a Kampala suburb along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road. Currently, his body is at Mulago National referral Hospital mortuary.

Inyenyeri is a vernacular online news magazine on http://inyenyerinews.org/.

Sources revealed to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that two people are under police custody at Old Kampala police station including; one Onzima David, a security Guard and Robinah Nabunnya, a waitress at Makies 2 Bar.

The sources added that Police has recovered five cartridges of sub machine gun bullets that are believed to have been used in the murder.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Ibin Senkumbi confirmed the murder of the journalist to HRNJ-Uganda. He however said that the body was recovered in the morning of 1st/Dec/2011 and it was unknown that the deceased was a journalist until today the 2nd/Dec/2011 when relatives went to police to complain.

“The journalist walked into the bar with an unidentified friend just a few minutes after midnight and he was shot dead within the bar gardens. We have recovered his phone which is helping us with the investigations. We are also using information got from the two suspects to understand what exactly happened.
Police is still holding onto the body of the deceased saying investigations are underway. The relatives went to Mulago to get the body on Friday morning but they were denied access to it.
Ingabire is the second Rwandese editor to be shot dead by unknown gunmen in less than two years after Jean-Leonard Rugambage, a 34-year-old editor for a private tabloid, Umuvugizi, in 2010 in Kigali.

“It’s unfortunate that attacks aiming to silence critical voices are spreading beyond Rwanda and the gunmen continue to be unknown. There’s need for a special and independent body to investigate all murders that have claimed journalists’ lives because of their work otherwise we shall continue losing journalists and other people who are killed in cold blood” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-Uganda extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and the entire journalism profession in the region and beyond for the loss of such a brilliant professional.

We call upon the Government of Uganda to consider inviting the Interpol into the matter because we fear that Ugandan forces might fail to divulge the results of the findings to the public like other inquiries conducted before.

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

Four journalists arrested and photos erased.

Masaka, 2nd/Dec/2011: Masaka prison warders have arrested and briefly detained four journalists for photographing the poor conditions and the dire state of the prisons.
The four journalists arrested include; Margaret Kayondo – Ssuubi fm correspondent in Masaka, Lubuuka Ali Ggoloba and Ezekeri Ssekweyama both working with Masaka based radio Buddu and Hanifah Namuwonge working for Bukedde a Luganda paper.

The four journalists had been invited by the Southern Buganda regional Prisons Officer Julius Asiimwe to cover the World Aids Day celebrations that were marked at Masaka prison on 1st/Dec/2011.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has leant that the Officer in Charge (O/C) Masaka prison, Simon Wansadha ordered the arrest of the journalists after they took photos of the interiors of one ward whose hygiene was in dire state and sick inmates who were allegedly not treated among others. 

The journalists were part of a group that toured the prison led by Irish Ambassador Anne Webster who was the chief guest.

Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that when the journalists were moving out of the prison premises, prison warders arrested them on the orders of O/C Wansadha, and detained them all in one room and their cameras were confiscated.

Namuwonge one of the victims told HRNJ-Uganda that male prison warders wanted to mount a search on them but they insisted demanding for fellow women wardens adding that even their hand bags were confiscated.

“We were released after one hour of unlawful detention but our cameras were missing. Upon release we stormed O/C Wansadha demanding for our cameras and an explanation for detaining us. He later returned our cameras with some photos erased” Said Namuwonge

She added that they want to see O/C Wansadha and his team apprehended for their wrong deeds.  
 HRNJ-Uganda contacted O/C Wansadha to get his side of the story but he denied knowledge of harassing journalists.

“Such actions are the sole reason why freedom of expression and the press continue to be undermined in Uganda and there’s a need to deal with it straight way. It’s very clear that O/C Wansadha over stepped his mandate and the only way to fight this kind of impunity therefore is to hold him in his individual capacity liable for his wrong deeds.

HRNJ-Uganda has taken up the matter through its lawyers who will ensure that O/C Wansadha is punished.

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