Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Hearing of a ‘Disobedience of lawful orders’ case against a journalist fails to take off

Kasangati, 23rd/September/2014; A Vision Group journalist, Adrian Bwanika Bbaale has on 23rd September, asked court to dismiss a case in which the Kasangati based police accuses him of ‘Disobedience of lawful orders’. This was after the State Attorney prosecuting the matter failed to turn-up in court.
Bwanika, through his lawyers Catherine Anite and Kirabira Tonny Raymond prayed to the Grade 2 Magistrate Court at Kasangati presided over by His Worship Okoth Richard Loo, to withdraw the charges as prosecution seems to have lost interest in the matter as evidenced by their absence in Court.
On the 2nd of September, Bwanika was arrested and remanded to jail on allegations that he disobeyed lawful orders of a police officer on duty, Detective Assistant Yaye Paul at Kasangaati police station in Wakiso district. Prosecution led by one Rachael told court on that date that investigations into the matter were complete, and accordingly, court fixed 23rd of September for the hearing.
The court adjourned the matter to 07th October, 2014.
The State should withdraw this matter since it has failed to turn up to prosecute the case. The police should desist from instituting tramped up charges against journalists who seek and impart information deemed critical of the force.” said HRNJ-Uganda’s National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, award winning artist apologizes to journalist over violent attack

Kampala, 18th/September/2014; A renowned Ugandan artist, Edriisa Musuuza popularly known as Eddie Kenzo has made a public apology to a Dembe FM journalist and presenter, Isaac Katenda aka Kasuku over a violent attack on him at a pre-concert press conference on 11th September 2014. Kenzo has been under fire since he severally punched the journalist at Centenary Park, in Kampala.
The press conference attended by prominent Uganda artists, at Hotel Africana in Kampala saw the two reconciling. Kasuku said he had forgiven Kenzo, “We have agreed to certain terms and settled the matter amicably. He called a press conference and apologized. Am very grateful to HRNJ-Uganda, and am going to become a very big advocate of you guys at HRNJ; whenever you need me, just call on me, you have my full support and backing. I appreciate you so much for the work you have done for me because it has not been easy for me to get justice. I attribute this achievement to your tireless work.” Kasuku amusedly told HRNJ-Uganda.
HRNJ-Uganda engaged the police leadership over failure to summon or arrest Kenzo for assault five days after the ugly incident. This provoked the police to immediately summon Kenzo, “We are sorry for the delay to act but now we are going to summon him, and if he delays to report, I will deploy my men to arrest him and detain him until he appears in court.” A senior police officer told the HRNJ-Uganda team during a meeting with the police over failure by the police to act.
Kenzo’s Manager, Jjuuko Hannington, speaking on phone, told HRNJ-Uganda that the two had agreed to make peace, “They agreed on the modalities and reconciled, they have agreed to withdraw the case from police, they have agreed on everything.” He said.
HRNJ-Uganda is happy that the two embraced the Alternative Dispute Resolution process to amicably settle this matter. However, HRNJ-Uganda warns against the dangers of trading off criminality with money as this practice entrenches the culture of impunity with perpetrators buying off their victims.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Human Rights Commission hears more evidence in journalist’s case

Kampala, 17th/September/2014, The Human Rights Commission has continued to hear evidence in a case where Gideon Tugume, a journalist previously working with Capital F.M sued the Attorney General for damages accruing from injuries he sustained after being allegedly shot by the bodyguard to the Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura in 2011, while covering the return of Dr. Kiiza Besigye from treatment in Nairobi.

The Tribunal heard testimony from Fred Seggawa, the second complainant’s witness who said that he was the first person who helped Gideon on the day that he was shot. “I was with Gideon and other journalists covering the return of Dr. Kiiza Besigye from Nairobi. Suddenly, I heard a gunshot and when I turned, I saw Gideon down on the ground. He told me to touch his leg and asked whether there was blood. I touched his leg and told him there was blood. I then called the Police ambulance which took him to Mulago hospital, before informing his wife and workmates”.

During the hearing, Gideon brought his family as ordered by Commissioner on the 21st of August for identification. The matter was adjourned to a date that will be communicated, for hearing of expert evidence. The complainant is represented by Catherine Anite, while, Adrole Richard represents the State.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, award winning artist under fire for violent attack of a journalist

Kampala, 12th/September/2014; a renowned Ugandan artist, Edriisa Musuuza popularly known as Eddie Kenzo pounced on a Dembe FM journalist and presenter, Isaac Katenda aka Kasuku and showered him with several blows at press conference at Centenary Park, in Kampala on 11th/September/2014, accusing him of asking negative questions. The journalist wants Kenzo arrested and charged with assault.
He has had beef against me since 2011, accusing me of unfavorable reporting. When I asked him questions at the press conference, he lost his temper, jumped over the table and attacked me; he landed me several punches which pushed me on the ground. I did not fight back. He hit me on the head and neck, until I was saved by the owner of the venue and other people at the press conference who restrained him. I went for medication and later reported a case of assault at Kira Road Police Station. I want him arrested and tried in court. He hit me so hard, am feeling a lot of pain.” Kasuku told HRNJ-Uganda.
Two of Kasuku’ witnesses have since recorded statements at the police as investigations into the matter are going on. A cross-section of artists, human rights activists and media practitioners have condemned Kenzo’s violent attack of the journalist.
HRNJ-Uganda condemns the rude, inhumane and degrading attack on the journalist at a press conference which the journalist had been assigned to cover. Kenzo should not take the law in his hands. The police should arrest Kenzo, expeditiously investigate the matter and have Kenzo presented to court. HRNJ-Uganda is taking lead in following up this matter to ensure that justice prevails.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala

Thursday, September 11, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalists challenge ban to cover court proceedings.

Kampala, 9th/September/2014, The High Court at Kampala has started hearing a case in which journalists under their umbrella body; Uganda Court Reporters Association (UCRA) are challenging a decision by the Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate, Lillian Bucyana, banning the press and the general public from attending the proceedings against a police officer Ronald Poteri. The State accuses Poteri of leaking to the public ‘sensitive’ information, implicating the Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura in meddling in partisan politics.

Through its lawyers, Catherine Anite, Isaac Ssemakadde Kimaze and Peter Kibilango, UCRA told Court presided over by Justice Lydia Mugambe, that the learned trial magistrate did not address her mind to the constitutional principles of open justice and freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press to publicize court proceedings. They further argued that there was no evidence relied upon by the trial magistrate showing that a public hearing would be prejudicial to morality, public order or national security.

The Attorney General represented by Oburu Odoi asked court to dismiss the application unless it finds that the trial magistrate violated the provisions of the Constitution. The matter was adjourned to 17th October, 2014 for ruling.

“Journalists play an integral duty in enhancing public knowledge and appreciation of the workings of the court, thereby playing a watch-dog role in the dispensation of justice. We appreciate the fact that this matter has been handled expeditiously, and we hope that the open court principle will be upheld,” said, the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Trial of a senior police officer accused of assaulting a journalist commences, as Uganda Human Rights Commission orders the Attorney General to appear in another assault case

Kampala, 09th/September/ 2014; The trial of a senior Uganda Police officer, the Divisional Commander of Wandegeya police station, Julius Ceaser Tusingwire has commenced at the High Court in Kampala, with the victim, Mulindwa Mukasa a journalist with the Associated Press news agency asking court to disqualify Tusingwire’s two lawyers, Fred Masaba and Odjambo Bichachi because they work for the Attorney General’s office.

Mulindwa through his lawyer, Isaac Semakadde Kimaze of Centre for Legal Aid told Court presided over by Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe, sitting at Twed Towers in Kampala, that according to Articles 119 and 250(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, it would be an abuse of office for the Attorney General to represent Tusingwire who was sued in his personal and individual capacity. 

Mulindwa alleges that on 26th November 2013, Tusingwire ordered for his arrest which was carried out in an inhumane and degrading way. He alleges that he was tortured and sprayed with pepper while in custody at Wandegeya police station. Tusingwire also ordered for the deletion of Mulindwa’s footage which he had taken during the police’s forceful dispersal of journalists from Wandegeya police station, them from rescuing a Top radio journalist, Richard Kisuule aka Kamagu who had been arrested and detained at the same police station.
Court adjourned the matter to the 23rd of September.

In a related development, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has ordered the Attorney General to appear before the Tribunal on the 22nd of September in a matter where Hasfa Nakyanzi, a journalist working with WBS T.V accuses the Uganda Police Force of occasioning her grievous bodily harm and loss of her journalistic tools as she covered a peaceful demonstration by Opposition Political leaders in Jinja town on the 11/March/2011. The Tribunal presided over by Commissioner Katabalirwe Amooti made the order after the Attorney General failed to appear.  Present at the Tribunal were Ambassador Olara Otunnu, and the complainant who were ready to testify. The complainant is represented by Catherine Anite, while Kosia Kasibayo held brief for the Attorney General.

“HRNJ-Uganda is elated with the commencement of the trials and pray that they will be expedited in the interest of justice for the victim journalists and the media at large.” said Robert Ssempala, the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, journalist jailed by police over news coverage

Kasangaati, 02nd/September/2014; Kasangati Chief Magistrate’ court has remanded a Vision Group journalist, Adrian Bwanika Bbaale to prison upto 23rd/September/2014, on allegations of ‘Disobedience of lawful orders’ by a police officer. Bwanika denied the charges.

Prosecution led by one only identified as Rachael alleges that Bwanika disobeyed lawful orders of a police officer on duty, Detective Assistant Yaye Paul at Kasangaati police station in Wakiso district. “Investigations are complete. I pray that we fix a date for hearing.” Racheal told court.

Bwanika who works for the government owned Vision Group’ Bukedde television was arrested Tuesday morning at Kasangaati police station as he covered a story of the arrest of a land dealer, popularly known as Hajji who the complainant, Ocheba Apollo accused of defrauding him of his land. Hajji was released immediately after his arrest under unclear circumstances.

Bwanika told HRNJ-Uganda that he was inhumanely arrested and his video camera confiscated, “I was assigned by my News Editor to cover the story. I came together with the complainant to the police, so I covered the arrest, but was surprised when a police officer confronted me after he had spoken to the arrested suspect, whom I believe masterminded my arrest. I was brutally arrested by five police officers, my video camera confiscated and confined in a police cell with a man who maimed his brother to death a day ago. I introduced myself as a journalist but the officer said he did not care if I was a journalist.” He told HRNJ-Uganda at Kasangaati police station.

Court presided over by Magistrate Okoth Loo granted Bwanika a cash bail of UGSHS100,000/= (USD40), which he in turn failed to pay because it was too late to pay in the bank which had since closed. The HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala and journalists Bambalazaabwe and Mutebi Sulaiman stood surety for Bwanika at a noncash bond of UGSHs1,000,000/= (USD250) each.

“HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by this irregular act of the police at Kasangaati police station for charging the journalist with this tramped up charge, and also delayed to present him to court until it was too late for him to pay for his cash bail. The police should desist from being influenced to arrest and charge journalists under such circumstances. HRNJ-Uganda calls on the police to protect journalists and ensure their safety in the course of work,” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)

Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala. Tel:
+256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
news@hrnjuganda.org / humanrajournalists@yahoo.co.uk / Website: www.hrnjuganda.org; BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com