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

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