Thursday, July 23, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Police and President’s representative arrest radio station manager for criticizing the President.


WEB PHOTO: President Museveni commissioning one of the roads in Uganda, 26 February 2015.
Gulu, 22nd/July/2015; Police and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Gulu District in Northern Uganda, on 21st July 2015 arrested Payira Bonny a radio talk-show host who is also the Programmes Manager of Jal Fresh FM, for allegedly using abusive language against the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during a one hour talk-show which discussed political developments in the country.
Payira was arrested along with Okot Thomas Oloya a.k.a Toko a student at Gulu University, Okyak Silva -a former Guild President of Gulu University and Agwen Samuel the Local Councilor for Laroo Division in Gulu Municipality. The trio had been hosted in the current affairs programme which airs from 7pm to 8pm local time from Monday to Friday.
A source told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that Payira was arrested from Roma hotel by RDC Andrew Moses Awinyi and the District Police Commander for Gulu District, Martin Okoyo. “They arrested Payira and put him in their car without informing him the reason for his arrest. He was taken to Gulu Police Station, where he recorded a statement before being locked up in the cells”. Payira and others where still detained at the time of publishing this brief.
It is alleged that during the talk-show, the trio criticized President Museveni for commissioning the Gulu-Atiak road that is reportedly not complete. The Regional Police Commander for Northern Region Wilson Kwanya, accused the suspects of hatred against the president. “What caused the problem is abusive language against the Head of State. They have hatred against the president. They were abusing him on radio. So when we got information about that, we went and arrested them for questioning. We intend to take them to court.” Kwanya told HRNJ-Uganda. Okoyo declined to comment, referring HRNJ-Uganda to the Officer in Charge of Investigations, whose cellphone couldn’t go through.
The Jal Fresh radio Director, Eng. David Mwaka told HRNJ-Uganda that he was yet to listen to the said program recording, “The police are not saying much, no charges, no nothing as of now. I have asked for the recording of the show. Am sure that as a radio, we act under the law; even if it is to criticize the president, we do it positively. They should release them on bond or take them to court to be heard.”
The police and RDC should not stifle debate and discussion on matters of public interest as this is a key ingredient of a free and democratic society. The President as the Chief Executive of the country is not immune to criticism. The aggrieved party of such criticism should petition the Media Council, rather than criminalizing free speech.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, media body HRNJ-Uganda loses property worth millions in office break-in.


Kampala, 30th/June/2015; A media rights body, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has lost vital information and property to unknown persons who broke into their office premises in Kayanja Triangle Zone in Rubaga, a Kampala suburb, and made away with all desktop computers, laptops, documents and unspecified amount of money for project activities.
It is hard for us to comprehend. This was a highly sophisticated intrusion. The organization is paralyzed, a lot of our important information was taken, we can’t tell what they intend to use it for. We suspect this to be a reprisal for the work we do in defending and promoting media freedoms and journalists’ rights in the country,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala this morning.
This is the second time in two years when HRNJ-Uganda offices are being broken into. There have been several attempts to break into the office but foiled by the security guards. However last night the security guard, who was on duty disappeared in the morning after the break in, leaving behind her gun.
The attackers used the window on the National Coordinator’s office after removing the burglar proof to enter the premises, they broke all internal office doors, vandalized drawers and scattered documents on the floor as they made away with others. They also made away with the organizations money-safe which was vandalized and found at the Rubaga police post by HRNJ-U staff who had gone to report the incident.
When I arrived this morning I found the guard outside the gate, she opened for me, I entered and proceeded to open the office. I was shocked to see broken pieces of metallic bars near my boss’s office window. I rushed back to check on the guard only to realize that she had disappeared leaving behind the gun,” said Emmanuel Magambo the in-charge Information Technology and Security at HRNJ-Uganda.
Numerous rights-based non-governmental organizations have been broken into in Uganda and useful information and property lost. According to NGO-Forum, over 15 offices of human rights organizations have been broken into under similar circumstances in the recent past. They include; ACCU, FHRI, EHAHRDP, AGHA, HRNJ-Uganda, AFODE, HURINET-Uganda, ACME, among others.
Their interest was to access our information which they did because how do you explain the fact that expensive and portable machines like printers, projectors and photocopiers were not taken! They targeted specific offices within the premises, making us more suspicious of the intentions of the attackers. We hope that the police will investigate this matter to its logical conclusion.” said said Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator.

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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Monday, June 22, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist acquitted of ‘obstruction’ charges


Kampala, 22nd June 2015; Mulindwa Mukasa, a journalist with the Associated Press, has on 22nd June been acquitted by the Magistrates Court of obstructing the former District Police Commander, Wandegeya Police station, Julius Ceaser Tusingwire while executing his duties.
In her ruling, the Senior Principal Magistrate at the Law Development Centre Court, Jolly Nkore Shwanda said that the prosecution evidence was inconsistent and heavily discredited by the defense during cross-examination to be relied on.
“… Directing my mind as Court to the law and the evidence provided on record, there were great differences especially the testimony of the second prosecution witness having been discredited during cross examination. I fail to find that the accused has a case to answer. I accordingly acquit him as prayed for by defense Counsel,” ruled the Magistrate.
Mulindwa was represented by HRNJ-Uganda' lawyer Catherine Anite while the prosecution was led by Naluzze Aisha Batala.
In June 2014, Mulindwa was charged with obstructing Julius Ceaser Tusingwire, the then District Police Commander of Wandegeya Police Station in November 2013 while transferring Kasule Richard alias Kamaggu, a radio journalist who had been arrested for hosting an opposition politician, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Sulaiman Kidandala.
Prior to this criminal charge, Mulindwa had instituted civil proceedings in the High Court against Tusingwire accusing him of harassment while covering the arrest and detention of Kamagu. The matter is currently before Justice Lydia Mugambe.
Speaking to HRNJ-Uganda after the ruling, Mulindwa said that the criminal charge was trumped up and diversionary and that he is happy to finally regain his freedom to pursue the civil case against Tusingwire who must answer for his unprofessional conduct against journalists.
Despite the lengthy trial, justice has finally been procured. It is unfortunate that police is misusing its powers to harass and intimidate journalists through tramping up charges which they cannot prove. Police should promote the safety of journalists other than curtailing their freedoms.” said Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator.
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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Friday, June 19, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, police detain journalist for photographing a suspect at court


Tabitha (right) talks to her father Patrick Bamwise Kakaire (left).
Kampala, 19th/June/2015; a court reporter working with the Vision Group, Betty Amamukirori was on 18th June, arrested by the police at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, a Kampala suburb for photographing a suspect during a court break. She declined to delete the said photos, and later released without a charge.
Betty told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that she was arrested by the police upon photographing a suspect, one Patrick James Bamwise Kakaire, 64 years, a resident of Jinja district who was convicted of a land matter in which he converted family land into his names without the authority of the 22 beneficiaries. The Presiding Judge Paul Mugamba convicted him to UGX4.5million fine or serves four years imprisonment.
Betty was detained for almost 2 hours on the orders of Bamwise’s daughter, a one Tabitha (said to be an employee of the Ugandan Parliament), in a bid to force her to delete the photos. Betty said that the police officers at the court led by one Anyanga tried to intimidate her to surrender the camera but declined, “The police were ordering me to delete the photo, they threatened to undress me and search everywhere for the camera which I had used to take the convict’ photo. I identified myself to them twice as a Vision Group reporter, but they continued harassing me on Tabitha’ orders. The police were not helpful at all.” Betty told HRNJ-Uganda at the Court soon after her release.
Another court reporter, Veronica Kayaga, who witnessed the incident, told HRNJ-Uganda that much as the Court Clerk explained to the police that what the journalist had done was okay since the photo was taken during a court break, they were defiant and continued to force Betty to delete the said photo.
We are happy that Betty’s fellow court reporters rushed to her defence. We urge the court authorities to ensure the protection of the court reporters who face safety and security challenges from irrational individuals within court. The police should desist from being used to violate media freedoms. They should guarantee the safety and security of all court reporters especially those covering highly sensitive cases.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Thursday, June 18, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist murdered in cold blood, husband arrested in connection.


Scovia Anena while still alive (WEB PHOTO)
Gulu, 17th/June/2015; Police in Gulu district have arrested a man in connection with the murder of a 23-year old freelance journalist, Scovia Anena, who was working with a Christian based radio, Favor FM. Residents discovered Anena’s decomposing body on Monday 15th June, 2015 lying in clotted blood in her rented house, at Kolo quarters in Layibi Division, Gulu Municipality in Northern Uganda.
The Gulu District Police Commander, Martin Okoyo told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that Anena’s husband was arrested in connection with the murder, “We have arrested one suspect in connection with her murder, it is her husband, and we have him in our cells as further investigations are going on. We arrested him from Gulu.” Okoyo said in an interview. Sources have identified the suspect as Joel Kenneth.
A local journalist, who preferred anonymity, told HRNJ-Uganda that Anena’s body had a rope tied around her neck and onto a chair, with all things in her room scattered around meaning that she must have put up a fight but overpowered by her killer(s). The journalist said that Anena was sleeping alone in the house since her husband was working with an NGO in Pader district, and would return home over weekends. The source said that post-mortem examination results indicated that Anena sustained chest and lung injuries, pointing to a possible use of a blunt object on her. Anena was said to have been pregnant for her first child.
The deceased’ News Editor at Favor FM, Caroline Ayugi told HRNJ-Uganda that, “Anena had last reported to work on Friday 12th June, 2015 and left after filing her stories. She went back very okay after work, she did not hint on any threats to her life. Anena’s burial is due on Thursday 18th June, at 09:00am local time, at Layibi.
Meanwhile, Central Police Station in Gulu arrested a Vision Group journalist, Lamony Jee Wilfred on 15th June, 2015 while following up on a story of the theft of a commercial motor cycle. He was detained for a night and released in the evening of the next day, without a charge, on the orders of the Regional Police Commander. He lost his company identity card and National Identity Card and other valuables.
This is another sad moment for the media. HRNJ-Uganda conveys its condolences to the media and the deceased’s family. Police should make thoroughly investigate this horrific murder and bring the perpetrators to book. There are other previous murders of journalists for which the police should release its investigation reports. The police should also stop arresting journalists on duty and charging them on tramped up charges. Police should compensate Mr. Lamony” 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. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist assaulted by suspects in the presence of police.


Sulaiman Mutebi (WEB PHOTO)
Entebbe, 15th /June/2015; Sulaiman Mutebi, a journalist working with the Vision Group was on 15th June 2015 assaulted by two suspected land fraudsters at Kisubi police station in Entebbe, Wakiso District in full presence of police officers.
Mutebi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that he was assaulted by some suspected land fraudsters who had been arrested but released by the same police. “When the suspects realized I was covering them, they pounced on me and started beating me up. I was kicked in the stomach, on the head and jaws. My camera fell down and got spoilt in the process. All this time the police officers were looking on without helping me. I was saved by a traffic officer who arrived and found them assaulting me.” Mutebi told HRNJ-Uganda.
Mutebi, who told HRNJ-Uganda that he had sustained injuries and body pains, had gone to cover a story of two men who are suspected of dealing in land fraudulently. On reaching the police station, he was able to interview some police officers, and as he turned to the Officer in Charge of Criminal Investigations, he saw the two suspects walking away, so he tilted his camera and started covering in that process, prompting the wrath of the suspects who pounced on him.
Mutebi has recorded a case of assault and malicious damage at Kisubi police against the alleged land fraudsters, who were identified as Solomon Tumwesigye and David Muhakanizi. Efforts to get a comment from the Police were futile.
Adrian Bbaale Bwanika , a Vision Group journalist was arrested and detained at Kasangati police station late last year in a similar as he covered land fraud related story. In a turn of events, police charged him with disobedience of lawful order, a case which was later dismissed by the Kasangati Magistrates Court for lack of evidence.
HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed with this unfortunate incident that happened at a police station in the full presence of police officers whose role is to keep law and order.” The police’s disciplinary body –PSU should investigate into the conduct of the implicated officers, and also cause the arrest of suspects for assaulting the journalists.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org      |        Website: hrnjuganda.org
 

Monday, June 8, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Court dismisses case against Vision Group journalist.


Wakiso, 08th/June/2015; The Chief Magistrate’s Court of Nabweru at Kasangati has on 08th June, dismissed a case in which a Vision Group journalist, Adrian Bbaale Bwanika was accused of disobeying lawful orders of the police.
In her ruling, the Grade One Magistrate, Prossy Katushabe dismissed the case due to failure by the State to turn up in court to produce evidence incriminating the journalist.
Prosecution had alleged that on 02nd September 2014, Bwanika disobeyed lawful orders of a police officer on duty, Detective Assistant Yaye Paul at Kasangati police station in Wakiso District.
Bwanika had gone to the police station to cover the arrest of an alleged fraudulent land dealer, who upon his arrest, was released upon reaching the station and instead the police officers turned against Bwanika and initially accused him of criminal trespass, though later he was charged with disobedience of lawful orders. He was released on bail. His camera and other belongings were destroyed during the violent arrest.
It was a mixed reaction for Bwanika, “At last am happy that justice has been delivered, though the case has taken a lot of time that was not necessary. It was evident from the start that the police did not have evidence to bring against me because the case was a total fabrication.” He told HRNJ-Uganda at Kasangaati.
In a related development, the Law Development Center Magistrate’s Court at Makerere in Kampala has adjourned to 22nd June, 2015 giving its ruling on whether or not there is a case to answer by an Associated Press Correspondent, Mulindwa Mukasa, who the police accuses of disobeying lawful orders.
HRNJ-Uganda is pleased by the decision taken by the Magistrate to dismiss the case. But it is disheartening that the State has resorted to trumped up charges against journalists as a way of scaring them from critical journalism and thereby silencing them. The police authorities should prevail over such officers who abuse their portfolios to carry out injustice against innocent Ugandans. Thoroughly investigations should be carried out before such matters are taken to court.” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala. 
For More Information Please Contact;
Human Rights Network For Journalists-Uganda (HRBJ-Uganda)
Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O Box 71314 Clock Tower Kampala.
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, journalist detained over minister story

Journalists at Kabalagala Police Station
Kampala, 19th/May/2015; A Red Pepper journalist, Alex Bukhumune was arrested and detained on 19th of May 2015 for investigating a story involving the State Minister for Energy, Ronald James Du’janga. He was later released at about 7:00pm on charges of threatening violence.
Bukhumune was first arrested on 15th/May/2015 by Kabalagala police officers and charged with ‘criminal defamation’ for investigating a land dispute-related story involving Du’janga. Bukhumune was arrested from the High Court premises in Kampala by two plain-clothed officers who tricked him by saying they had a news story to give him, only to declare him ‘under arrest for threatening violence’ against a minister. They then ordered him into a salon car and whisked him away to Kabalagala police station, from where he was released on bond after six hours.
Bukhumune told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he was arrested after sending a text message to Du’janga on May 14, asking him about murder allegations labeled against him by relatives of two deceased owners of a piece of land in Kabalagala –a Kampala suburb which they claim Du’janga had taken over through his son under mysterious circumstances.
I called Hon. Du’janga about five times on his mobile number but he was not picking, so I decided to send him a text message asking him about the allegations. He didn’t reply. Moments later, his Lawyer, Joseph Luzige called me and explained the circumstances about the allegations and the related case against the minister which is at the Nakawa Court. Luzige threatened legal action if we went ahead to write the story. I was surprised when I was arrested and charged with defamation over a story I had not published. The police officers claimed that they had orders from above to cause my arrest and detention or else they get fired.” Bukhumune told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview.
Luzige confirmed to HRNJ-Uganda that Du’janga forwarded to him the said text message, “Hon. Du’janga forwarded to me the text message, claiming that this person was making false allegations against him. I called the journalist who came with two of his other colleagues, and then I gave them the facts about the matter. Am not aware of the arrest, if anyone did it, I don’t think it is right. Seeking for someone’s side to a story is not a crime.” Luzige said
The Officer in Charge of Criminal investigations at Kabalagala Police, Nusurah Kemigisha told HRNJ-Uganda that the minister reported the matter to police. “We saw the text message, but we just want to harmonize things. We hope to meet the journalist together with the minister. Bukhumune was due to report back to police on May 21st, 2015, but was called to report today (May 19, 2015), where his bond was revoked and he was detained under unclear circumstances. Du’janga told HRNJ-Uganda, that he had recorded a statement at the police. “How police handles my matter is up to them,” he said.
Bukhumune has been ordered to report to the Police’s compliance unit in Ntinda on the 20th May 2015 for further interrogation.
The fact that the police is arbitrarily changing the charges against the journalists is an indication that they are tramped up. It is ethical and good practice for journalists to balance their stories, so the minister should not criminalize these efforts. We appeal to the police to desist from yielding to political pressures in total disregard of the law.” 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
E-mail: info@hrnjuganda.org



Thursday, May 14, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist accuses NRM ruling party official of assault


Masaka 14th/May/2015; Edward Bindhe, a Uganda Radio Network (URN) journalist was on 12th May 2015 assaulted by a senior ruling NRM party official, Rogers Mulindwa, while he was covering the launch of the NRM members’ registration exercise in Masaka, officiated by the party Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba.
Bindhe, URN’ Masaka based correspondent told HRNJ-Uganda that prior to his assault by Mulindwa, the former football governing body -FUFA Uganda’ spokesperson, he was first turned away from covering the event on grounds that he had no permission. “I gave up and went to the Hotel lounge to do my other work. As I was accessing my laptop, Rogers Mulindwa entered the Hotel lounge and asked me, "You, what are you still doing here yet we evicted you from this place? Who are you?” I identified myself and told him that I was evicted from the meeting hall but decided to do my other work, since I had prior commitments at the same hotel.” Bindhe said
He commanded me to leave the premises immediately, but I refused on grounds that the hotel was a public. “It’s then that he accused me of being an opposition FDC party spy. He slapped me and forcefully grabbed my neck in an attempt to strangle me. He then dragged me by the neck to the hotel managers and ordered them to ensure that am not seen at the hotel again. In the process, one of the lenses in my glasses got damaged. I suffered breathing difficulties as he deeply squeezed my neck.” Bindhe further told HRNJ-Uganda.
When contacted, Mulindwa denied assaulting the journalist, saying he only told him to leave if he was not covering the event. “I told him to leave and he was even wearing a blue shirt and yet it was an NRM event. I never touched him.” Mulindwa said.
However sources at the hotel confirmed the assault allegations to HRNJ-Uganda saying that, Rogers Mulindwa beat up the journalist and dragged him out of the hotel. “He really never had the right to send someone away from our hotel because it is a public place, where everyone is welcome.” The anonymous source told HRNJ-Uganda.
Bindhe opened up an assault case against Mulindwa at the Masaka Central Police Station. Musa Bwambale, the Investigating Officer at the police station told HRNJ-Uganda that the police are ready to handle the matter.
This is gross abuse of power by Mulindwa; his party must hold him accountable. The police should investigate this matter and pursue it to its logical conclusion.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist assaulted by UPDF Officers.

web photo
Kalangala, 05th May 2015;  Twanika Kajubi, a reporter working with the Vision Group, attached to Bukedde Television was badly beaten by UPDF officers attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) in Entebbe. Twanika had gone to cover a story about illegal fishing at Semuganja Island in Bufumira Sub-county, Kalangala district where the Kalangala district chairperson, Willy Lugoloobi had led a team to follow up on allegations of refusal by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Reserve Forces to hand over to the area police illegal fishing gear and immature fish which they had reportedly confiscated.
Kajubi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that he was beaten by over 20 SFC and reserve force officers all of whom had guns and were in their respective uniforms, “They arrested me together with other three locals from the area. They took us to the island and started beating us. They kicked me, slapped, caned me, and did whatever they did in an incident which lasted about an hour, until they received a phone call from reportedly their commander and then they left me. I had introduced myself to them as a Vision Group Journalist. They asked why I had moved with the District Chairman. My colleague Henry Lubulwa of the Daily Monitor Newspaper survived narrowly.” Kajubi told HRNJ-Uganda
Lubulwa confirmed the attack when contacted by HRNJ-Uganda since he was at the scene and witnessed the incident, saying that he narrowly escaped. Chairman Lugolobi also told HRNJ-Uganda that he witnessed the ugly incident.
Kajubi’s video camera was confiscated by the SFC officers, but later returned to him without deleting the material. He reported the matter to Kalangala Police Station.
Jafal Kasirivu the Commander of UPDF reserve forces which carried out the illegal fishing operation denied having commanded the SFC officers to carry out the alleged assault.
It is worrying that security agents have continuously abused media freedoms and journalists’ rights with impunity. We call upon the SFC authorities to investigate this matter and bring these errant officers to book. The government should ensure that journalists are safe while doing their work, especially in the run-up to general elections in 2016.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org

Friday, April 24, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist charged with dissemination of false news.

Bushenyi, 24th April 2015; Zadock Amanyisa, a Daily Monitor correspondent based in Bushenyi was on 22nd April incarcerated and charged by the police for allegedly disseminating false news. The journalist reported a story on the same day titled “Let us return to Obote’s security system”. The story quoted the security minister, Mary Karooro Okurut as saying “we need to bring back the mayumba kumi system of administration where every 10 homes make a cluster, which gives the chairman LCI the duty to identify who has slept in the village; that is how we shall get to know and beware of strange people who are likely to cause insecurity”.

Zadock told HRNJ-Uganda that in his story, he analyzed the minister’s remarks and compared her call to return to the ‘mayumba kumi’ security measure to mean that she wanted the community to adopt President Obote’s ‘manyumba kumi’ security system which included having a leader for every 10 house-holds.

After hearing the word ‘mayumba kumi’, I went to the community to find out what it means. I spoke to a number of elderly persons who told me that it was a security mechanism exported by Obote from Tanzania. Some people said it was brought by Binaisa under UNLFP but I failed to find enough evidence to back that. I then read articles on the internet which also confirmed that it was an Obote system”

On 22nd April, I received a call from the OC CID Bushenyi who asked me to go and meet him immediately adding that my quick response to his call would save me. When I arrived at the station, he said that he had orders from above to detain me for a story I had written”

When HRNJ-Uganda contacted Peter Tindyebwa, the OC CID Bushenyi about the ‘orders from above’ to arrest, detain and charge the journalist, he said “I acted on my own capacity and as a policeman I have powers to arrest and detain, I was doing my work”. He also denied having used the provisions of the Press and Journalist Act to charge the journalist, and when asked under what law he based his charges, he alluded to sections 179 and 180 of the Penal Code Act, that create the offence of criminal defamation, adding that this was an official matter and if we needed any information, we should go to his office, as he was not sure of who he was talking to.

HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the actions of the Uganda police in orchestrating the arrest, and detention of a journalist on charges of disseminating false information, an offence which was de-criminalized by the Supreme Court in 2004, in the case of Charles Onyango Obbo & Andrew Mwenda against the Attorney General. The provisions of the Press and Journalist Act which have been allegedly used to charge the journalist, give mandate to the disciplinary committee of the Media Council and not the police over issues of professional conduct. 

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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / admin@hrnjuganda.org
 
 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, journalist weeps as he testifies against senior police officer

(L-R) Joram Mwesigye standing and Andrew Lwanga seated with clutches

Kampala, 25th/February/2015; A Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) Television journalist, Andrew Lwanga broke down in tears as he testified against Joram Mwesigye the former Division Police Commander of Old Kampala Police Station who he accuses of brutally assaulting him while covering a procession by a group of unemployed youth in Kampala.
Lwanga, who is currently walking on clutches told court presided over by Grade One Magistrate, Sanyu Mukasa, that on 12th January 2015, while using a big stick, Mwesigye hit him three times on the left hand, chest and left side of his head, which made him dizzy and collapsed on the ground. His camera was also destroyed.
He first hit me on the palm of the left hand, I tried to hold on to the stick in self-defense, but I failed. He hit me the second time and I fronted my camera; the stick smashed the camera and got me on the chest as well. On the third time, he hit me on the head near the left ear. It is then that I collapsed on the ground, I was dizzy. I spent some time on the ground….” Lwanga told a fully packed court.
Lwanga further testified that he was dragged into a private white saloon car Registration Number UAT 150L, and driven to Old Kampala Police Station, from where he was ordered to remove his belt and shoes to enter the cells, but was rescued by the Former Kampala South Metropolitan Police Commander, James Ruhweza, who used a police patrol car and rushed him to Mulago National Referral Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition. He was thereafter transferred to St. Francis Hospital in Nsambya after he became weak and unconscious a few hours after he had been discharged from Mulago. He is likely to undergo surgery on the back bone owing to a dislocation of his spine cord.
Court dismissed an application by Mwesigye through his lawyer Gorge Spencer against allowing other journalists from testifying against him in this case. The matter was adjourned to 30th March 2015 for further hearing.
Meanwhile, hearing of a case at the Law Development Center Court in Kampala, in which the former Executive Board Chairperson of HRNJ-Uganda, Mulindwa Mukasa is accused of obstructing the former Division Police Commander of Wandegeya Police Station, Julius Caesar Tusingwire did not take off due to failure by the State to produce witnesses in court. Two witnesses have so far testified in this case. The matter was adjourned to 25th March for further hearing.
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
E-mail:news@hrnjuganda.org/humanrajournalists@yahoo.co.uk/Website:www.hrnjuganda.org;BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Court adjourns a journalist’s assault case against a senior police officer

ANDREW LWANGA ON CLUTCHES
Kampala, 18th/ February/2015; Court at Buganda Road has adjourned a case in which a Wavah Broad Casting Services (WBS) Journalist, Andrew Lwanga was allegedly assaulted by Joram Mwesige a former Division Police Commander of Old Kampala Police Station.
This was after defence counsel George Spencer made an oral application seeking for a two weeks’ adjournment on grounds that, “the accused has a serious ailment and has been advised by his doctors to have a bed rest.”
Prosecution led by Deborah Itwau objected to the application on the basis that she had a witness in court (Andrew Lwanga) and seeking for an adjournment was intended to delay the due process of court.
The Trial Magistrate Sanyu Mukasa granted the defense’s application and adjourned the case to 25th February 2015 for further hearing.
Prosecution alleges that on12thJanuary 2015, while covering a demonstration by a group of unemployed youths who were heading to Police Headquarters in Naguru to deliver a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) General Kale Kayihura to allow them hold rallies in the different parts of the City, Andrew Lwanga was assaulted by Joram Mwesige, the former Division Police Commander of Old Kampala Police Station.
Lwanga sustained injuries on the head and was admitted at Mulago National Referral Hospital and thereafter transferred to St. Francis Hospital Nsambya for over two weeks.
We applaud the expeditious trial the judiciary has accorded this matter and the media for critically following and covering the progress of this case in public interest.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / humanrajournalists@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, February 15, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Internal Affairs Minister orders for investigations into violations against journalists by armed forces.


Kampala, 15th/February/2015; The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has ordered for investigations into cases of violations of media freedom and journalists rights, and release the reports to the public in order to end impunity. He also called for continuous dialogue between the media and key government institutions and departments.
This was during a 3-hour meeting between journalists led by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda and Gen. Aronda, at his offices at Kololo Airstrip, over heightened brutality against journalists by security agents, especially the police.
Aronda commended the role played by the media as the fourth estate of government, observing that this critical role must be well known by all government agencies especially the armed forces, “the role of the media is a ‘must know’ not a ‘should know’ to all government bodies.”
Aronda committed to ensuring that there are regular structured meetings between the media and officials from the ministry of information and national guidance, the police, prisons, Immigration, spokespersons of government departments and key media personalities to deliberate on the challenges being faced by the media with a view of improving the working environment.
In a 3-page petition handed over to the minister by the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala, the journalists asked Gen. Aronda to ensure that errant police officers face disciplinary measures, suspended from their offices of work and discharged from the force as a way to counter the wide scale impunity. They want the reports of such actions to be made public.
Lynn Najjemba, from Panos Eastern Africa asked the minister to ensure that journalists are treated fairly like other citizens of Uganda.
Aronda instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr. Stephen Kagoda to coordinate efforts aimed at having regular meetings and dialogue over the issues raised during the meeting.
After failing to meet the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura over the increased brutality against journalists which saw the then Old Kampala DPC, Joram Mwesigye going on rampage and beating journalists including a WBS Television journalist, Andrew Lwanga leaving him unconscious, the media players sought for a meeting with Gen. Aronda who is the line minister in charges of the police and prisons. The next meeting is slated for February 27, 2015.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, court convict journalist on duty, sentences him to two weeks

Kampala, 05/February/2015; Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Lillian Bucyana has convicted a journalist working with Pearl of Africa radio, Muzafar Nsubuga of contempt of court and sentenced him to two weeks in jail or to a fine of Uganda Shillings 100,000/= (USD40) after his cell-phone rang during a court session, at Buganda Road Court in Kampala.
Nsubuga told HRNJ-Uganda while in custody at the Buganda Road Court cells in Kampala that when his cell-phone rang accidentally, he switched it off very fast, but the tough speaking magistrate ordered for his arrest and read to him the judgement. “She did not allow me to say anything to defend myself or plead for mercy; she immediately passed a sentence against me and ordered for my arrest at around 11:55am local time.” Nsubuga told HRNJ-Uganda
However, Nsubuga’s employers paid the fine and had him released at around 04:00pm local time. Last year, Bucyana made a ruling that threw out of her court session journalists covering the trial of a police man accused of leaking police’s secret audio recordings to the public. The ruling was however challenged in the High Court and overturned.
Nsubuga reported to HRNJ-Uganda that a prison officer, one Kalisengawa, force number 8435, threatened him with brutal treatment similar to that of a police officer, Joram Mwesigye against journalists on January 12, 2015. The prison officer admitted to HRNJ-Uganda having made the threats, “I told him that while here in the cells he must behave, or else we would work on him. He should know he is a prisoner now.” Kalisengawa confessed to HRNJ-Uganda. In 2013, a group of three prison warders violently attacked journalists at Kalisizo, occasioning them grievous harm. They were charged and taken to court.
Nsubuga is the second journalist to be convicted since December 2014, after William Ntege aka Kyumakyayesu, a freelance journalist who was sentenced to two months in jail after being convicted of criminal trespass. He was arrested at the Ugandan Parliament when he went to petition the Speaker of Parliament over police brutality and use of excessive force.
We appreciate the fact that judicial officers have powers to convict persons for offences whose penalties are not prescribed by law. However, this discretion should be exercised leniently, most especially if the offenders are remorseful, like in the case of Nsubuga.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / humanrajournalists@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist testifies against police boss


DPC Joram Mwesigye in big photo and Andrew Lwanga being held by 2 police officers
Kampala, 4th/February/2015; Hearing of a criminal case in which the suspended Old Kampala District Police Commander (DPC), SP Joram Mwesigye, is accused of assaulting a WBS TV journalist, Lwanga Andrew has commenced on 04/February/2015, at Buganda Road Magistrates Court before Her Worship Sanyu Mukasa.
The first prosecution witness, Joseph Settimba, a journalist with the government owned Vision Group, told court that on 12th January 2015, while doing his journalistic work, he saw Mwesigye, chasing a group of youth who were demonstrating against unemployment. Joram then started running after the youth and journalists whom he told not to film him. He had a wire with which he attempted to hit Lwanga, but instead it hooked his pair of Khaki trousers and tore them. In the process, his video camera fell down and got damaged. Joram then picked a stick which he used to hit journalist, Lwanga on the head and the stick broke into three pieces. Lwanga, then fell down and was carried by two police officers into Mwesigye’s car and drove him to Old Kampala police station.
The DPC is accused of assaulting a journalist and causing malicious damage to property. Prosecution led by Deborah Itwau alleges that on Monday, January 12, 2015, the Division Police Commander (DPC) for Old Kampala Police Station, SP Joram Mwesigye, assaulted Lwanga Andrew, a journalist with Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS), on the head leaving him unconscious and also smashed and damaged his video camera. Defence is represented by George Spencer.
Lwanga was first admitted at Mulago National Referral hospital on the fateful day, before being transferred to St. Peter’ Hospital Nsambya were he was admitted for over two weeks. He is currently walking with the support of clutches. Doctors recommended that a surgery be carried out on him in the near future.
The matter was adjourned to 18th February for further hearing when Lwanga is expected to testify.
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
E-mail:news@hrnjuganda.org/humanrajournalists@yahoo.co.uk/Website:www.hrnjuganda.org;BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Thursday, January 29, 2015

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Journalist violently attacked by police discharged from hospital


WBS journalist Andrew Lwanga on clutches together with UN official Andrew Akutu extreme left and HRNJ National Coordinator Robert Ssempala. 
Kampala, 29th/January/2015; A Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS) Television journalist, Lwanga Andrew who was violently assaulted by the suspended Division Police Commander (DPC) of Old Kampala Police Station, Joram Mwesigye, has been discharged from St. Francis Hospital Nsambya where he was admitted two weeks ago in critical condition.
Much as police had committed to paying his medical bills, Lwanga had to spend two more nights without receiving the police money, prompting Lwanga’s family to clear the bill of approximately UGX 1,500,000 (USD 600). Save for the two police spokespersons, Patrick Onyango and Fred Enanga, the leadership of Uganda police shunned visiting the patient at the hospital. This provoked angry reaction from the journalists and other human rights defenders who kept thronging the hospital.
At the time of his discharge, Lwanga looked weak and could not walk by himself, but with the support of crutches. He is still under continuous treatment and according to doctors, he may soon undergo surgery
Lwanga was first admitted at Mulago National Referral hospital, before being rushed to Nsambya when he collapsed at the Central Police Station in Kampala. Another victim of assault, Joseph Ssetimba of Bukedde TV was also hospitalized with severe chest pain, constant headache and breathing difficulties. He was discharged after two days. Police did not meet his medical bills.
On 12th January 2015, Mwesigye with the aid of other police officers from Old Kampala Police station went on rampage and assaulted journalists who were covering a peaceful demonstration by a group of unemployed youth who were matching to the police headquarters at Naguru, a Kampala suburb to petition the Inspector General of Police. Journalists slapped a media black-out on the police and marched to the police headquarters in protest against the brutality.
Mwesigye was suspended, charged with assault and malicious damage to property; he was released on bail as the trial is going on.
We are happy that the two journalists are now out of danger, thanks to the journalists, media houses, human rights organizations and all the stakeholders who have stood in solidarity with the victim journalists. We want justice to be delivered to the victims through expeditious trial of the culprits.” 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
E-mail:
info@hrnjuganda.org / hrnjuganda@gmail.com