Thursday, November 15, 2012

Journalist Asks Court to Throw Out Defamation Case.

Kalangala, 15th/November; A Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) radio journalist, Ronald Ssembuusi has asked Court to disregard all prosecution evidence against him in a defamation case. This comes as the defense and prosecution made their submissions on the 14th November as to whether there is a case to answer.

Ssembuusi -a correspondent for the Buganda Kingdom’ private CBS radio for Kalangala district in the Central Uganda region was dragged to court by the district Chairman David Kikoola accusing him of defamation.  He reported a story which was aired on CBS radio on 17th/November/2011 that Kikoola was being investigated for alleged involvement in the disappearance of solar panels. Over 80 solar panels were donated by the African Development Bank through the ministry of water and environment in 2010 to help circulate clean and safe water in Kalangala Town Council. However, about 40 (forty) panels were stolen; Police have so far recovered 21.

Ssembuusi, being represented by HRNJ-Uganda lawyer, Anite Catherine submitted that the Prosecution led by Arthur Masaba had failed to prove ingredients of the offence and whether the accused was the author of the said defamatory material, adding that it was not the responsibility of the accused to determine what should be broadcasted on air. She also noted that prosecution had not proved that the complainant was ridiculed either hated or his profession, trade and reputation injured due to the story.

She argued that the limits of acceptable criticism are wider as regards a public official than a private individual. Unlike the latter, the former inevitably and knowingly lays him open to close scrutiny of his every word and deed by both journalists and the public at large, and must consequently display a greater degree of tolerance. She invited Court to discourage closed leadership and none transparency by leaders as this is a danger to society.
She prayed for the prosecution evidence to be struck off as it was inconsistent and false and for an acquittal for the journalist. She implored Court to advise the complainant to seek for justice using other avenues like the civil court and Media Council.

In response, the prosecution asked court to regard the inconsistencies in their witnesses’ evidence as minor and to handle the case as a human rights issue because the complainant had been treated inhumanly by the news.
The presiding magistrate, Kenneth Gimugu adjourned the matter to 28th November 2012 to give his ruling on whether or not Ssembuusi has a case to answer.

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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