Monday, January 28, 2013

Police arrested a news anchor in mistaken identity causing panic as the radio went off air unexpectedly.

Kampala, 28th January 2013; the police in Uganda’s Capital Kampala on Saturday 26 January, arrested a Radio Simba News anchor and whisked him away on a police patrol, causing panic at the Bukoto-based radio station as the radio went off for some time since there was no one to read the top of the hour news. He was mistaken for Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala Member of Parliament who was the police’s target for his role in the banned 4GC (For God and My Country)activities. Muwanga, who was being hosted on a Saturday talk show ‘Ggasibagane ne banamawulire’ (Faceoff with the journalists) managed to find his way out of the gate as the arresting policemen did not know his identity.

James Tenywa was arrested at around midday as he asked the police to explain their heavy deployment and siege of the radio premises for over two hours. The police were waiting to apprehend Kivumbi. The operation was led by the Kampala Metropolitan Police operations commander, Sam Omara.

“It appears that police could not positively identify Kivumbi, so when I came out and started questioning the heavy police deployment, they arrested me, pushed me into the waiting patrol car as I insisted on knowing my crime. I wanted to identify myself but they didn’t allow me. They whisked me away, but mid-way to Kira Road police station, they realized that I was the wrong person. They let me free and I walked back to the station. The radio went off for 5 minutes before I came back. So I read the news 5 minutes late.” Tenywa told HRNJ-Uganda

One of the officers reportedly made a phone call to his superiors confirming that Muwanga Kivumbi had been arrested, “yes we have him. We are bringing him” the officer reportedly said before realizing it was a wrongful arrest. The police deputy spokesperson, Vincent SSekatte declined to apologize for the incident, “When he asked for what the police were doing at the radio, they thought he was the one, that’s why he was arrested but it had nothing to do with Radio Simba.” He told HRNJ-Uganda

The police are fond of arresting people soon after appearing on talk shows. In 2009, a former Radio One talk show host Robert Kalundi Sserumaga was arrested as he left WBS television where he had been hosted, while early this year, a workers’ Member Of Parliament Dr Sam Lyomoki was arrested as he left WBS TV after a TV show. In 2003, Betty Nambooze who was a critical journalist was arrested at CBS radio at Bulange as she was about to appear on a weekly radio program.

“The police should desist from using media houses as a catchment area for suspects as this would insinuate that the management of the respective media houses connive with the police to cause the arrest of some politicians, which in the end the politicians would be scared of associating with particular media houses. The police should resort to alternative means of summoning the suspects, other than causing hatred against the media houses.” Said HRNJ-Uganda National 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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Threatens to Ban Journalist from Covering Parliament over a News Story.

Kampala, 28th January 2013; The Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has threatened to suspend a journalist David Tash Lumu from covering news in Parliament over a story he published in a local bi-weekly newspaper ‘The Observer’, which she says was not factual. The story which ran in the Monday, 21 January 2013 edition, was titled ‘How Kadaga, Oulanyah fought over petition’. Kadaga wants the newspaper to retract the story and apologize to her or face suspension.

The story highlighted how the Speaker reportedly handled the petition which was signed by 127 lawmakers seeking a recall of the House to debate President Yoweri Museveni’s handling of the death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, which they said amounted to an attack on the independence of Parliament.

The Public Relations Officer of Parliament, Helen Kaweesa told HRNJ-Uganda that the Speaker was very angry about the story. “I have met with the Speaker and agreed on some issues. She is personally very angry, she says the story was not factual; it was misleading and had ill-motives. We met with ‘The Observer’ and told them to retract it and offer an apology, but they are adamant. There are Rules about false reporting, so the journalist must suffer the repercussions. He will be suspended, but The Observer can send in another reporter.” Kaweesa said.

Lumu, who is a member of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA), the vibrant association of journalists reporting from Parliament, defended the story when interviewed by HRNJ-Uganda. “She is denying some of the contents of the story, though it’s a fact that the meeting happened. It’s a story I stand with, which I will never deny because I wrote it myself after talking to multiple sources, although I can’t reveal them.” Lumu said. The Observer’s Managing Editor Richard M. Kavuma said that it would be unfortunate if the journalist is banned, “I met with the Speaker and we talked about it. I chose not be anxious about what they are likely to do. They are very reasonable people; I think they will rise above a ban or suspension.” He told HRNJ-Uganda.

However, UPPA was not aware of the matter. “We don’t know about it since they have not written to us regarding the matter.” UPPA Secretary General Moses Kajangu told HRNJ-Uganda. In 2012, Speaker Kadaga banned a Red Pepper reporter, Henry Mulindwa over a news story. The ban was lifted three months later after UPPA intervened.

“HRNJ-Uganda is greatly concerned about entrenching a culture of suspending or banning of journalists from covering news in Parliament because of the stories they have written. This will threaten sources from talking to journalists for fear of their identities being revealed which will hinder free access to information and consequently freedom of the media. We call upon the Speaker to refer this matter to UPPA to which the journalist is a member. In extreme cases, petition Court.” Said HRNJ-Uganda’s National 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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Monday, January 21, 2013

Radio Talk-Show Host Suspended On Orders of a Regulatory Body

Mbarara, 21st January 2013; Uganda's broadcast regulatory body, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has suspended a talk-show host working for Endigito FM radio in Western Uganda over hosting critical politicians. The radio also suspended its current affairs programme ‘Ekitandaro’ which airs on Sundays and replaced it with music citing pressure from government. Ekitandaro in English means a rack for drying utensils.

Kasiriivu James, aged 33 years, was suspended on 10th January 2013 after men reportedly from State House stormed the radio with a letter they claimed was from UCC ordering for the journalist’s suspension. He was the host of a weekly program the ‘News hour’ which carried political analysis and commentaries on the major news events and ‘World Express’ which highlighted major global news and events.

“I am currently stopped. I was relieved of my work. My boss told me that he had been instructed to suspend me.” Kasiriivu told HRNJ-Uganda.

Endigito (88.3 FM), owned by Hon. Nuru Byamukama a Member of Parliament (NRM) for  Kitagendwa County  in Kamwenge district, broadcasts mainly in local languages, covering Western Uganda. Byamukama is also the proprietor of Hits FM in Fort portal which recently suspended all political programmes from air citing political pressure.
The Executive Director of the UCC, Godfrey Mutabaazi was non-committal on the matter when contacted. “Please give us time and space to do our work.” He told HRNJ-Uganda, adding that, “We get uncomfortable if you are calling to ask how far we have gone.  Isn’t that intimidation?” he asked

The Officer in Charge of Media Crimes at the Criminal Investigations Department, Fred Mirondo, who collected and listened to the recordings of Kasiriivu’s programmes told HRNJ-Uganda last week that they have no case against the journalist and that he should be re-instated; “I have advised them (UCC) to re-instate the journalist since we have no case against him. UCC have not explained to me what he did, much as it’s true that they suspended him.”

"UCC should desist from curtailing freedom of expression and information. Ugandans have a right to express themselves on matters of governance and UCC should not worsen the trend of intimidation and hounding free speech. We call on government to protect and promote free speech and expression as well as media freedom,” said HRNJ-Uganda's National 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
E-mail: / /

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Government should stop criminalizing free expression and speech

Kampala, 14th, Jan, 2013; Human Rights Network for Journalists –Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is dismayed by government`s efforts to criminalize free expression under the guise of enforcing the law against incitement of violence and control of political and media indiscipline. We have noticed several actions and statements made by government officials that are intended to hold freedom of expression hostage. We have also noticed in the early days of 2013 a steady orchestrated and systematic clamp down of critical voices by state agencies.

HRNJ-Uganda notes that having a divergent view from that of government and expressing it openly is becoming risky, notwithstanding that government has a constitutional obligation to respect, fulfill and protect the rights of all Ugandans who want to express themselves irrespective of where they come from or which party they belong to. This duty must be performed fully without discrimination.

Article 20 (2) of the 1995 Constitution states that the rights and freedoms of the individual and groups enshrined in the Chapter IV of the Constitution shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons. 

HRNJ-Uganda has also learnt that journalists particularly those hosting political talk –shows and their producers are under pressure from their supervisors not to give platform to members of parliament and individuals with views divergent from government. These actors are currently facing threats of closure or suspension of licenses of their media houses by government. It is now becoming criminal to host or provide a platform to those considered “anti, rebel or indiscipline” politicians with divergent views. Similarly, it has become “unlawful” to express your dissent view/ opinion in any form and to speak about matters of governance.

For example; on 7th January police arrested Arthur Larok, Country Director, Action Aid and Leonard Okello an independent activist for distributing anti graft newsletters that had catalogued cases of corruption since 2000.
Samuel Balaba Magala of Heart FM was on Thursday 10th January was summoned and interrogated by Mubende police for allegedly hosting Lwemiyaga County Member of Parliament, Theodore Ssekikubo. Magala was interrogated for over two hours by the head political crimes at Mubende Police station Juma Geoffrey on orders from CID headquarters in Kibuli – Kampala.

The director Hits FM in Fort Portal, Hon Nulu Byamukama has decided to suspend two talk shows Orukurato and Ekitanganzo ” because that’s what the government wants. We are not talking politics anymore.” Byamukama told HRNJ-Uganda early January. He said he was first told to adjust the content of the talk shows and broadcast government developmental projects instead of airing controversial political issues.

On Thursday 10th, the Buganda Kingdom Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio suspended hosting critical members of Parliaments Betty Nambooze Bakirekke (Mukono North-DP) and Nsereko Mohammed (Kampala Central –NRM) on a popular political show ‘Kkiriza oba ggaana’ on the orders of the state.  “I received a call just two hours to the programme stopping me from attending the show, they said that the situation was still tense in the country, so they couldn’t host people like me. The pressure is mounting by the day on all free media; I don’t know if any other media house would accept to host me.” Nambooze told HRNJ-Uganda.

Both the ministers of Information and that in charge of the presidency were quoted in the local media issuing a stern warning against media houses considered errant that they face closure. They warned that media houses that do not operate professionally would have their licenses revoked. Mr. Frank Tumwebaze, the minister in-charge of the Presidency, was quoted in a local newspaper saying that the government was out to monitor and restore sanity within the media. “We are not seeing debate but insults. The media should not be part-and-parcel of political fights. We are trying to sanitize the media, not to curtail it,” Tumwebaze is quoted. While Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the Minister for Information, is quoted to have said that government would revoke licenses of media houses that did not act within the law, “….the media houses must act within the law, if they act outside it, their licenses will be withdrawn.”

read more:,Jan,2013.pdf

Monday, January 7, 2013

Civil Society Anti-Corruption Activists Arrested By Ugandan Police

Kampala, 07th January 2013; The Ugandan police have arrested and questioned members of the anti-corruption civil society group who were distributing anti-corruption news bulletins dubbed the ‘Black Monday’ and other materials at Wampeewo round-about in the country’s Capital Kampala.

Arthur Larok the Action Aid –Uganda Country Director and Leonard Okello the Executive Director of Uhuru Institute were arrested by the police on Monday 07th January 2013 and driven on a police patrol car to Jinja road police station from where they were questioned for about 2 hours and later released with no charges preferred against them.

“We had just finished distributing our anti-corruption materials when the officers on a police patrol car arrested us and drove us to Jinja Road Police Station. They questioned us for about 2 hours, but released us without recording statements or preferring any charges. All we are doing is implementing the president’s Manifesto of Zero-tolerance to corruption.” Larok told HRNJ-Uganda soon after being released.

“They arrested us although they never found ground to charge us. They read through the materials, and distributed copies amongst themselves. The police acted professionally.” Okello said.

The “Black Monday” bulletin highlights corruption scandals rocking the country since 2000. It also calls for the improvement of the welfare of the Uganda Police Force. In November 2012, the police cordoned off a hired venue and blocked activists from using it to launch the ‘Black Monday Movement’ –a campaign against escalating cases of high-profile corruption scandals in the country especially in the Prime Minister’s office that saw over Shs20billion stolen.

The Jinja road district police commander, Nganiizi Wesley told HRNJ-Uganda that the activists were not arrested but only summoned for questioning about what they were distributing since the bore police photos. The police have in the past blocked opposition rallies in Kampala, citing security concerns. 

“Such acts by the police are a clear violation of Ugandans’ inalienable right to assemble and associate. The police should instead give security to Ugandans as mandated by the law to allow citizens enjoy their rights and freedoms.” Said HRNJ-Uganda National 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
Website: BLOG: