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.

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