Monday, May 21, 2012

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Daily Monitor journalist assaulted in prison

Ntungamo, 18th/May/2012; A freelance journalist for the Daily Monitor in Ntugamo district was assaulted in prison by inmates of a crowded Ntugamo local government prison where he had been remanded.
Rumanzi was remanded on Wednesday by Ntungamo Grade One Magistrate Francis Matenga on charges of incitement to violence. He had been remanded to jail until 30th/May/ 2012 after failing to get two sureties. He was however released on Thursday on a non-cash bail when Monitor Publications lawyer Joshua Mariiro secured a production warrant and a bail application was heard. His mother Annie Rumanzi and a station manager for a local station Radio Ankole, Eliot Kabangira Maganbe stood surety for him.
He told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he was beaten three times by the inmates whose leader kept questioning he had delayed to go to court. “They beat me three times during the time I was in prison. They seemed to be working on someone’s orders. Other inmates were not beaten that time. The healthy conditions in the prison were appalling. The one room prison had 368 inmates instead of the 87 it was meant to accommodate.” he said.

Prosecution alleges that Mr Rumanzi uttered words that contravene section 51 of the Penal Code Act. The said words were however not on the charge sheet.

He was arrested by Special Forces Group (SFG) guarding the first Lady Janet Museveni on April 29th at Kyamate Cathedral which is the seat of South Ankole Diocese. The SFG ordered the police to detain him for allegedly interfering with the security of the First Lady by interfering with their movement. He was released on bond after two days in police custody.

At the time of his arrest, Rumanzi was covering the installation of the members of South Ankole Diocese synod at St. Mathew Cathedral Kyamate in Ntungamo district where Ms. Museveni was the chief guest.

The SFG claimed that Rumanzi was arrested for interfering with the security of the First Lady, but later the police’s crime investigation officer said he was to be charged from sedition, while his bond papers had the offence of obstruction. He was finally charged with inciting violence.

He would report back to court on June 19 for hearing of the case.

“These are tramped up charges meant to silence any form of critical journalism. Rumanzi was initially cleared by the SFG but later chased away from the news scene under unclear reasons. We call upon the court to expedite the case hearing and give the journalist a fair trial.” said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala

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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