Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Journalist threatened for his reporting

13 December 2011

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, December 9, 2011 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the safety of Kenyan reporter Robert Wanyonyi, who has been repeatedly threatened after covering a melee between police and local villagers that left as many as seven people dead.

On December 5, Wanyonyi, a reporter in the city of Bungoma West for The Standard and for the Nairobi-based private broadcaster Kenya Television Network (KTN), was called to Sirisia village in western Kenya to cover a violent fracas. Villagers had killed two people who had broken into the Namang'ofulo Coffee Factory to steal coffee, according to news reports. That set off a violent confrontation between villagers and local authorities who started firing at the crowd and killed four people, news reports said. Police even shot at Wanyonyi's car, the journalist said. He managed to avoid the attack and wrote two stories that night detailing how the robbery took place, he said. In the December 5 KTN broadcast, local residents claimed that District Commissioner Paul Merinyang was behind the attempted theft, news reports said.

On December 8, after Wanyoni wrote a follow-up story on the incident, an unidentified caller phoned him and told him to stop reporting on the district commissioner or "We will kill you and see whether KTN will bury you," the journalist said. The same day, Wanyoni was followed by two police officers when he returned to Sirisia village to conduct follow-up interviews, according tomember of Parliament Musikari Kombo, who was traveling with the journalist. Wanyoni said he was able to record the license plate of the police car.

On December 9, another anonymous caller told Wanyoni that he was "lucky" he had other people in his vehicle the previous day since their presence saved his life. The journalist said his email had been hacked and that he was now in hiding because of the threats.

"It is outrageous that Robert Wanyoni, who was simply doing his job, was subjected to intimidation and harassment by police," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "CPJ calls on authorities to make a credible investigation into these threats and allow Wanyonyi to carry out his work without harassment."

In November, investigative KTN editor Mohammed Ali received death threats after he aired a series of stories on officials' complicity in the drug trade, along Kenya's coastline, according to local reports.

For more information:
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@) cpj.org
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hearing of a case lodged four years ago hits a snag

 Kampala, 8th/Dec/2011; Hearing of case lodged with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)
 Court four years ago by journalists has failed to take off under unclear circumstances.
A case in which journalists protested brutal attacks by police and other security  agencies had been fixed for hearing on  December 9th 2011 at 9 00am local time at the Commission premises on Buganda Road. The complainants received summons for the slated date.

In 2007, journalists  including Sam Kayiwa working with Power FM, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala formerly working with Radio Sapientia and Ssemakula Richard formerly working with Bukedde newspaper among others went to the Commission tribunal demanding for investigation into the violations against journalists’ press freedoms and rights. They also urged the Commission to take punitive measures against culprits including compensation for the victims.

The journalists alleged in their complaint that while covering both treason and murder trials of the opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Changes (FDC) Dr. Kizza Besigye and  the 13 Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) suspects at high court in Kampala and Bushenyi, security forces sieged court and in an attempt to re-arrest the suspects who had been granted  bail, most journalists were beaten, their equipment and valuable items like money were  compulsorily confiscated and others were blocked from accessing  the court premises.

A complaint file UHRC 52/2007 was opened against the Attorney General for violations of freedoms and rights of the affected journalists.
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has discovered that the matter was not cause listed for the said session and the witnesses were erroneously summoned to appear before the tribunal on the stated date because the file was allegedly not allocated to a particular Commissioner at the Human Rights court.

Officials at the commission told HRNJ-Uganda that the summoned journalists will have to wait until the next Tribunal sittings which are slated for February 2012.
 “This has come way too late when memories of the victims and the general public to whom the media reports to are fading away.  However, it is still not too late for the Commission to deliver justice to the victims.  Most of the perpetrators have since been transferred or have earned promotions within the security forces, but we pray and hope that this will not act in their favor or jeopardize the proceedings.
We are looking forward to seeing Uganda Human Rights Commission deliver justice in a more expeditious manner” Said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairperson Robert Ssempala  He added that justice delayed is justice denied but we hope that one day we shall see  that justice. It has been an eon of giving up but suddenly there seems to be some hope.

 HRNJ-Uganda is concerned about the increasing restrictions on media freedoms particularly regarding the rights and liberties of expression, speech, conscience and association.
 We demand that the commission should expeditiously handle cases of Human Rights abuses because our fear is that this prolonged delay occasions a miscarriage of justice to the aggrieved parties and is not commensurate to the principles of natural justice and International Human Rights Instruments to which Uganda is party.

 For More Information Contact;
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
 P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
 Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
 E-mail: news@hrnjuganda.org
 Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
 BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Uganda police blocks a good intentioned demo over murdered journalist

Kampala, 8th /Dec/2011; Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is
dismayed with the unfair treatment from Uganda Police against families and friends of
late Charles Ingabire who wanted to express grief and solidarity against the brutal
killing of Charles and other Rwandese who have succumbed to this kind of gruesome

Charles IngabireRIP, the editor of the Kinyarwanda Online media Inyenyeri magazine was
gunned down by unidentified assailants on the 30th of November 2010 in the gardens of
Makies 2 Bar along Sir Apollo Kaggwa, a Kampala suburb. However, fear has mounted onto
both Rwandan community and journalists in Uganda over the increased operatives spying on
their work. Ingabire is suspected to have been killed because of his journalistic work.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 additional Protocols are the cornerstones of
modern refugee protection wherein government guarantees the basic Human Rights and
physical security of the refugees. Therefore, the government of Uganda bears the prime
responsibility for protecting refugees within its territory and this includes promoting
and providing legal and physical protection, and minimizing the threat of violence
including deaths which many Rwandan refugees are prone to.

The committee set up by the community of Rwandan Refugees and Asylumseekers in Uganda had
sought protection while holding a peaceful demonstration on 8th of December between 10:00
am to 12:00pm en-route from Kisementi roundabout, through Kanjokya Street to Prince
Charles drive where they would petition the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Refugees to look into their grievances.
A letter dated 6th/Dec/2011 was written to the Inspector General of Police, Major
General Kale Kaihura seeking for protection while peacefully demonstrating against the
alarmingly rampant activities of intelligences that spy on their work in Uganda and the
killings of Rwandan Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

The assassination of CHARLES INGABIRA epitomizes several other killings and security
threats to the Rwandese community. The demonstration further sought to call on the
International Community, especially UNHCR, the United Nations body in charge of
protection of refugees and human rights defenders and the Government of the Republic of
Uganda, the host country to take effective measures in ensuring the safety and protection
of Rwandese refugees, journalists and other human rights defenders. The demonstrators
also wanted UNHCR to desist from riding roughshod to serious concerns of security threats
and death of Rwandan refugees.

Also, the demo ultimately calls for vigilance, independence and thorough investigations
by police and all other relevant security agencies into mishaps against Rwandese. These
investigations should ensure that the cases are handled to their logical conclusions with
the perpetrators being brought to book.
HRNJ-Uganda was reliably informed that Ugandan police force dilly-dallied with the
leaders who had gone to police headquarters on 7th/Dec/2011 to secure protection.

One of the leaders told HRNJ-Uganda that they reportedly went to police four times and
appeared before different offices as they were being asked to go back after every three

“Whenever we would go to police headquarters, officers there were telling us that nothing
has matured and that’s how the day went without getting protection” said one leader whose
name is withheld for security purposes.
Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that by 18:00 local time on 7th/Dec/2011, there was still no
response until the Inspector General of Police intervened, made a private call to the
Rwandese leaders and managed to coerce them to postpone their intentions for a few days
as they partake investigations into the matter in a meeting that lasted up to 21:00
o’clock. The IGP asked them to be patient and promised to grant permission at a future

“We were not surprised to hear that police blocked the demo. From our experiences with
the Uganda Police Force, this is a normal routine! It was a hectic wild goose chase that
yielded no result. The police’s response exhibits the high handedness, partisan, and
repressive role the police is playing in abrogating the Constitution most especially
Article 29 which provides for freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration” said
HRNJ-Uganda Programs Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-Uganda reiterates its former position that called for intervention from independent
bodies like Interpol to investigate the gruesome murder of Charles Ingabire fearing for
country relations that would jeopadise investigations.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail: news@hrnjuganda.org
Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Friday, December 2, 2011

Journalist shot dead

RIP Charles Ingabire who was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Kampala
Kampala, 2nd/Dec/2011; unidentified gunmen have shot dead Charles Ingabire the editor of Rwanda’s Inyenyeri news paper.
Ingabire 32, a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame was reportedly shot on November 30 at Makies 2 Bar in Bukesa, a Kampala suburb along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road. Currently, his body is at Mulago National referral Hospital mortuary.

Inyenyeri is a vernacular online news magazine on http://inyenyerinews.org/.

Sources revealed to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that two people are under police custody at Old Kampala police station including; one Onzima David, a security Guard and Robinah Nabunnya, a waitress at Makies 2 Bar.

The sources added that Police has recovered five cartridges of sub machine gun bullets that are believed to have been used in the murder.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Ibin Senkumbi confirmed the murder of the journalist to HRNJ-Uganda. He however said that the body was recovered in the morning of 1st/Dec/2011 and it was unknown that the deceased was a journalist until today the 2nd/Dec/2011 when relatives went to police to complain.

“The journalist walked into the bar with an unidentified friend just a few minutes after midnight and he was shot dead within the bar gardens. We have recovered his phone which is helping us with the investigations. We are also using information got from the two suspects to understand what exactly happened.
Police is still holding onto the body of the deceased saying investigations are underway. The relatives went to Mulago to get the body on Friday morning but they were denied access to it.
Ingabire is the second Rwandese editor to be shot dead by unknown gunmen in less than two years after Jean-Leonard Rugambage, a 34-year-old editor for a private tabloid, Umuvugizi, in 2010 in Kigali.

“It’s unfortunate that attacks aiming to silence critical voices are spreading beyond Rwanda and the gunmen continue to be unknown. There’s need for a special and independent body to investigate all murders that have claimed journalists’ lives because of their work otherwise we shall continue losing journalists and other people who are killed in cold blood” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-Uganda extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and the entire journalism profession in the region and beyond for the loss of such a brilliant professional.

We call upon the Government of Uganda to consider inviting the Interpol into the matter because we fear that Ugandan forces might fail to divulge the results of the findings to the public like other inquiries conducted before.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

Four journalists arrested and photos erased.

Masaka, 2nd/Dec/2011: Masaka prison warders have arrested and briefly detained four journalists for photographing the poor conditions and the dire state of the prisons.
The four journalists arrested include; Margaret Kayondo – Ssuubi fm correspondent in Masaka, Lubuuka Ali Ggoloba and Ezekeri Ssekweyama both working with Masaka based radio Buddu and Hanifah Namuwonge working for Bukedde a Luganda paper.

The four journalists had been invited by the Southern Buganda regional Prisons Officer Julius Asiimwe to cover the World Aids Day celebrations that were marked at Masaka prison on 1st/Dec/2011.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has leant that the Officer in Charge (O/C) Masaka prison, Simon Wansadha ordered the arrest of the journalists after they took photos of the interiors of one ward whose hygiene was in dire state and sick inmates who were allegedly not treated among others. 

The journalists were part of a group that toured the prison led by Irish Ambassador Anne Webster who was the chief guest.

Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that when the journalists were moving out of the prison premises, prison warders arrested them on the orders of O/C Wansadha, and detained them all in one room and their cameras were confiscated.

Namuwonge one of the victims told HRNJ-Uganda that male prison warders wanted to mount a search on them but they insisted demanding for fellow women wardens adding that even their hand bags were confiscated.

“We were released after one hour of unlawful detention but our cameras were missing. Upon release we stormed O/C Wansadha demanding for our cameras and an explanation for detaining us. He later returned our cameras with some photos erased” Said Namuwonge

She added that they want to see O/C Wansadha and his team apprehended for their wrong deeds.  
 HRNJ-Uganda contacted O/C Wansadha to get his side of the story but he denied knowledge of harassing journalists.

“Such actions are the sole reason why freedom of expression and the press continue to be undermined in Uganda and there’s a need to deal with it straight way. It’s very clear that O/C Wansadha over stepped his mandate and the only way to fight this kind of impunity therefore is to hold him in his individual capacity liable for his wrong deeds.

HRNJ-Uganda has taken up the matter through its lawyers who will ensure that O/C Wansadha is punished.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

29 November 2011

President must reject draft penal code, says ARTICLE 19


(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Kigali, 28 November 2011 - In a legal analysis released today, ARTICLE 19 highlights how the Draft Penal Code for Rwanda is fundamentally flawed from a freedom of expression perspective. Both houses of the Rwandan Parliament have already approved the Draft Penal Code, and it is now awaiting the signature of President Paul Kagame before it becomes law. Presented with the option of either accepting or rejecting this law, ARTICLE 19 urges President Kagame to guarantee freedom of expression in Rwanda by rejecting the law and returning it to Parliament for redrafting.

"President Kagame now has the opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to freedom of expression by rejecting the Draft Penal Code for Rwanda," said Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Director for Eastern Africa.

"If enacted, this legislation will negate recent and pending media reforms to ensure the sector is independent, professional and sustainable. As such, it poses a serious threat to the protection of all other human rights in Rwanda," continued Maina.

ARTICLE 19 is seriously concerned about a number of provisions in this important piece of legislation that do not comply with international standards on freedom of expression, especially those relating to criminal defamation, protection of national security, access to reproductive health information and genocide ideology.

Offences in the Draft Penal Code, such as a number of severe criminal defamation penalties, invert international standards on freedom of expression and reputation and must be replaced with robust protection for freedom of speech. Several of these provisions provide heightened protections for officials, while others treat abstract nationalistic symbols, such as the national flag, anthem, or emblems and insignia as if they were people with reputations to defend. Criminal defamation provisions are always disproportionate restrictions on speech that have no legitimacy under international law.

The protection of national security and public order forms the basis of numerous other restrictions on free expression and association. These provisions restrict expression even where no connection to a national security or public order breach is demonstrated, and are therefore not necessary. Indeed, several of these provisions limit the freedom of individuals to discuss important aspects of public life; including military affairs and the Rwandan economy. Similar provisions also restrict the disclosure of state secrets and provide insufficient safeguards for journalists reporting on matters in the public interest.

Moreover, the Draft Penal Code even restricts women's access to reproductive health information, making it a crime to publicise information that may cause a woman to abort a pregnancy, even in circumstances where the Draft Penal Code provides that an abortion would be lawful.

Lastly, the Draft Penal Code entrenches provisions on "genocide ideology" that ARTICLE 19 had highlighted as weaknesses on several occasions since 2009. These provisions are extraordinarily broad, allowing the state to suppress discussion of history, politics and personal experience, particularly related to issues surrounding genocide. In addition, these provisions violate international human rights and humanitarian norms, and are likely to have an effect counterproductive to their purported aim.

In sum, ARTICLE 19 reminds President Kagame of his obligations under international human rights law, and urges him to renounce the Draft Penal Code.

For more information:
Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road
United Kingdom
info (@) article19.org
Phone: +44 20 7324 2517
Fax: +44 20 7490 0566

Thursday, November 24, 2011

News paper headquarters raided by unknown assailants

Eddoboozi editor Eddie showing our HRNJ-Uganda researcher the vandalised office

Some of the staff of Eddoboozi paper outside the office

A window used by unidentified assailants to enter the building

Some of the items left behind by assailants

Some of the keys used by assailants to open different offices
Eddoboozi News Paper Headquarters that were raided today by unknown assailants

HRNJ-Uganda Alert: News paper offices raided, guard killed

Wakiso, 24th/Nov/2011; Unidentified assailants have raided Eddoboozi news paper headquarters and vanished with property worth millions of Uganda shillings and killed a security guard named Fred Mabonga. The deceased was working with KPI a private security company in Kampala.

Eddoboozi, a bi-weekly Luganda news paper, located at Kyengera, Nsangi sub-country, Wakiso district was raided in wee hours of 24th/Nov/2011 and the said assailants disappeared with vital documents and company computers whose number still remains unknown.  

Eddoboozi a pro-Buganda news paper was established in 2009 at the wake of the banning of open space studio radio programmes  (Ebimeeza) and closure of five private radio stations namely; Central Broadcasting Service (88.8fm, 89.2fm) Radio Ssuubi,  Radio Sapientia and Radio Two commonly referred to as ‘Akaboozi’. The paper stormed streets on 18th/December/2009 and has written extensively on issues of corruption, politics, human rights abuses and Buganda Kingdom issues and concerns among others.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that this is the second attack on the paper in a period of two months. The first attack saw a security guard being chloroformed and injured by the assailants, but nothing was taken.

This is the third news paper to be raided in a period of two years after the Namanve based Red Pepper whose printer was burnt and Ggwanga News paper whose premises were raided by security operatives and four staffs were arrested. Since then, the paper has suspended its operations.

Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that the assailants used the widow to enter into the premises and moved straight to the administrator’s office where keys to all offices are normally kept.

The paper’s editor, Eddie Mukwaba Katende told HRNJ-Uganda that he learnt about the attack from one of his staff who was the first person to arrive at the office on that fateful morning.

“I rushed after getting the shocking news and upon reaching office, I found the body of the guard lying in a pool of blood. The attackers got the keys from administrator’s office and opened all offices. They took all computers totaling to over 80 in numbers which had stories prepared for the issue meant to come out on 25th/Nov/2011. It’s a big loss to the company” said Mukwaba

He added that the stories they had prepared for were not different from those the paper has been publishing but he cannot rule out being witch hunted.   

By the time HRNJ-Uganda wrote this alert, police in Kyengera had started its investigation but nobody had been arrested in connection to the incident.

“We condemn the attack on the news paper but the police have to prove its usefulness to the citizens because no report regarding the past attacks on media houses has ever been made public including the Red Pepper and the Independent Magazine in 2008. The investigations have gone mute and we do not know in whose interest! With these new dimensions on the attacks on media houses, we also cannot rule out the involvement of the government because findings are concealed” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala

HRNJ-Uganda calls for a quick and open investigation into the raid of Eddoboozi and the release of reports undertaken in previous attacks.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Journalist receives new threats!

Kalangala, 23rd/Nov/2011: Barely two days after receiving death threats, Central Broadcasting Service (CBS fm) Kalangala district correspondent Ronald Ssembuusi has received an anonymous call threatening to take away his life.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) reported on 21st/Nov/2011 about the death threats the journalist was facing after he reported about the disappearance of solar panels where the former Kalangala district boss Daniel Kikola is implicated.
Ssembuusi aired a story on the Buganda Kingdom radio on 17th/November/2011 which alleged that the former district boss is being investigated for his 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 in circulating clean and safe water in Kalangala Town Council. Unfortunately, about 40 (forty) are missing.
Following the intervention from the HRNJ-Uganda where meetings and telephone call conversations were made between police and Mr. Kikola, Ssembuusi reports that on 23rd/Nov/2011 at around 11:30am he received an anonymous call telling him to back off his reporting about the disappearance of solar panel.
“Some body called me on a private number and it was a man’s voice. He alleged that he was calling from police. He said I would be kidnapped and my relatives or lawyers will not be able to trace my body in case I don’t back off from reporting on the missing solar panels” Said Ssembuusi
He has reported the matter to Kalangala police station and recorded a statement but still awaits police intervention.
Ssembuusi added that after getting the comment, he wrote the story and it was later aired which triggered the endless calls.
He has also reported that he has filed a case at Kalangala police station
HRNJ-Uganda once again calls upon police to intervene in ensuring the security of the journalist and expeditiously investigate the allegation and bring it to its logical conclusion.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
E-mail: news@hrnjuganda.org
Website: www.hrnjuganda.org
BLOG: http://hrnjuganda.blogpost.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Radio talk-show under threat

Kitgum, 21st/Nov/2011; Kitgum based radio Mighty Fire talk- show host Stephen Komakech is under threats from district security officials over his journalistic work.
Komakech who doubles as a reporter is allegedly receiving threats from the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Pagimu – Brigade Intelligence Officer (IO) and the District internal Security Officer (DISO) among others. The trio is accusing the talk-show host for airing programmes and news pieces that are critical to the government.
Human Rights network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has noted that one of the stories the radio and the journalist have been instrumental in is the trial of Kitgum RDC Lieutenant Okot Santo Lapolo over corruption and abuse of office.
The Inspectorate of Government from September of 2011 has been investigating Lapolo over allegations that he diverted over 1700 pieces of iron sheets meant to be given to former internally displaced people in Northern Uganda to his personal gain.
Since 18th/Nov/2011, Komakech has been receiving phone calls from security circles in the district summoning him for interrogation. Information obtained by HRNJ-Uganda indicates that on 19th/Nov/2011, there were attempts to arrest Komakech and the radio’s acting manager but the plan was reversed due to absence of DISO and the Brigade IO in the District. 
Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that on the 14th Nov 2011 Komakech allegedly survived being way-laid by assailants on his way after attending the trial of RDC Lapolo at the Anti Corruption Court in Kampala.
“I wanted to use the Night Bus back to Kitgum but at around 3:00, I received a call from security circles telling me that if I was at the Radio, I should leave because plain clothed security operatives had been dispatched to arrest me” Komakech said, he delayed his trip back to Kitgum to the following morning when he got the whole story of the sinister plot against him and his colleagues.
“A credible source within the Security told me that I would be picked together with my Acting Manager for interrogation and then the probability of returning is zero”. Komakech narrated.
Northern Uganda region has got two journalists namely; Patrick Otim (Mega FM) and Augustine Okello (Rhino FM) who are on remand in Luzira prison on upsetting treason charges. The duo was brought to court through habeas corpus.
When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the Intelligence Officer 401Brigade Captain Nathan Esebo, he instead questioned and asked whether we don’t know the reason why people get summoned by security! However, the Kitgum District Police Commander Nasur Oringa denied any involvement in threatening the talk-show host.
“We condemn in the strongest term possible the manner in which such public officials are using their office to intimidate and cause panic to the journalists and the entire journalism profession in the region. We are not surprised that the former war tone region has had two journalists languishing in prison on treason charges without being tried” said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman Robert Ssempala.
HRNJ-Uganda calls on the Uganda Human Rights Commission, United Nations Office of High Commission for Human Rights and appointing authorities of these officials to intervene, investigate the conduct of these district officials and take appropriate action once found guilty.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

Journalist receives murder threats.

Kalangala, 21st/Nov/2011: Central Broadcasting Service (CBS fm) Kalangala district correspondent Ronald Ssembuusi is reported to have received death threats from former Kalangala boss Daniel Kikola over a news story.
The problem stemmed from a news story aired on the radio on 17th/November/2011 which alleged that the former district boss in being investigated for his involvement in the disappearance of solar panels.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that after the story was aired, Kikola called and invited the journalist to his home but he declined. Several calls followed and Kikola allegedly asked the journalist why he refused to go to his resident. As he was hanging up his last call, he allegedly threatened the complainant that something strange will happen to him.
Over 80 solar panels were donated by the African Development Bank through the ministry of water and environment in 2010 to help in circulating clean and safe water in Kalangala Town Council. Unfortunately, about 40 (forty) are missing.
Since 14th/November/2011, police has been investigating officials who were allegedly involved.  Several suspects have been arrested and about 21 solar panels have been recovered.
“I called Mr. Kikola for a comment after coming across his name on the list of those police is supposed to investigate and he refuted allegations saying the solar panels at his home were among those donated saying he purchased them years ago.
Ssembuusi added that after getting the comment he wrote the story and it was later aired which triggered the endless calls.
He has also reported that he has filed a case at Kalangala police station
When HRNJ-Uganda contacted Mr. Kikola he confirmed calling the journalist but denied using threatening words. He outlined plans to drag the journalist to court for defamation.
“We welcome the initiative taken by the journalist for reporting the matter to authorities because many cases have gone unreported due to the inferiority complex amongst journalists in Uganda” Said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairperson Robert Ssempala
HRNJ-Uganda calls upon police to expeditiously investigate the allegation and bring it to its logical conclusion.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

Monday, November 14, 2011

Journalist being tried under a ghost charge

11th/Nov/2011; Hearing of a case in which Uganda Record Managing Editor Timothy Kalyegira is accused of non-existing charges has kicked off with one witness taking a stand.
Kalyegira who has been under police harassment since Aug 3rd 2010 is being tried at Kampala City hall Grade One magistrate court.
Since August 2010, Kalyegira has reported on bond at Kira road police station for more than 18 times.  Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) complained to relevant authorities which resulted into the file to be rushed to court.
Although the sedition charge which was preferred against Kalyegira earlier in 2010 and dropped but the content of the same offence is being maintained on the charge sheet including the “defaming the person of the president’.
Kira road police station CID chief Haguma Prima was the first witness to take stand on November 7th 2011. As an investigating police officer, she did not state the offence Kalyegira committed rather narrated processes the accused underwent after the arrest including the house search.
She narrated that during interrogation the accused denied ownership of the website and the existence of the documents. That after the interrogation the accused was granted police bond and told to report the next day on the 4th of August for further questioning.
“The accused did report on the 4th wherein a search team proceeded to his home, in his presence and recovered exhibits which included 2 passports (B226638 and B0549160), a laptop and its power supply, a Warid internet modem, a Nokia mobile phone, a Warid Sim-card, 2 magazines (Uganda news records) and 2 letters in respect of the monitor dated 14th and 15th April 1994” said Haguma.
She added that all items were then marked and taken to the exhibit store with the exception of the laptop which was taken to the Police Information Department for expert analysis. The password for the laptop was obtained from the accused but access to his personal emails was impossible because police failed to hack in.
However, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has discovered that there’s no stated charge against Kalyegira on the charge sheet which is before court.
One Atwine Innocent a complainant in this case, at one point in the statement accuses Kalyegira of publishing a magazine and later changes saying he (Kalyegira) printed on the website www.ugrecords.org materials found to be defamatory in nature.

The defence lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi challenged the trial of his client saying the charge sheet does not enunciate what exactly the accused did that defamed the person of the president.

“It’s very hard for the accused to defend himself when he does not know what he is said to have done. Prosecution witness 1 (PW1) used words like print, publish but she was not clear about what exactly the accused printed and published. In one statement, she said it’s the complainant who printed the documents and in another breath, she said that it is the accused who printed. These inconsistencies are confusing” Said Rwakafuuzi.

He asked court that the charges be dismissed for ambiguity or in the alternative, be amended to include what exactly the accused is said to have done.

Court fixed November 16th 2011 as a date to decide whether or not there is a case to be answer by the accused.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Campaigns and Advocacy - Africa

8 November 2011

ACHPR urged to endorse African Platform on Access to Information declaration

SOURCE: Media Institute of Southern Africa

(MISA/IFEX) - November 3, 2011 - The 30th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which was celebrated at the 50th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), saw the African Platform on Access to Information take the campaign a step further, calling upon the Commission to endorse the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) declaration and September 28th as International Right to Know day.

Events preceding the session included the NGO forum organised by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights' Studies. Hundreds of civil society organisations attended the forum, where participants recommended a number of resolutions to be adopted by the commission. Amongst the resolutions, the forum called upon the Commission to recognise September 28th as International Right to Know day, as well as a call for an expansion of article IV of the Declaration of Principles of Expression in Africa to incorporate the principles of the APAI Declaration.

During the Session, which commenced on October 24th, a number of side events were organised, amongst which the APAI hosted a well attended side event which explained the practical importance of the APAI declaration, as well as how participants could further the campaign on a national level. The event was followed by a signatory event, with a number of organisations joining the hundreds of organisations from across the continent who have already pledged their support for the campaign.

The main purpose of the trip to Banjul was to place the declaration on the policy platform of the commission. On October 29th, a submission was made to the Human Rights Commission on behalf of the nine-member APAI working group. The submission reminded the commission that to date only ten countries have adopted access to information laws, despite the fact that many countries have joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the International Aid Transparency Initiative and the Open Government Partnership.

In light of this, the group called upon the ACHPR to:

"Pass a resolution authorising the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa to expand Part IV of the Declaration of Freedom of Expression in Africa to include principles of the APAI Declaration.

Pass a resolution requesting the AU Heads of State Summit of January 2012 to adopt September 28 as an International Right to Information day.

Urge AU member states to adopt and implement national Access to Information laws that comply with the APAI Declaration and the model law on ATI developed by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Information in Africa.

Pass a resolution requesting the African Union Summit of January 2012 to initiate an Experts meeting to develop a continental wide instrument on the right of Access to Information."

This event is yet another important step in advancing the promotion of access to information as a human right throughout the region. The Commission will pass their final resolutions on November 7th, and it is hoped that they will pass a resolution supporting this important initiative.

For more information:
Media Institute of Southern Africa
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Private Bag 13386
director (@) misa.org
Phone: +264 61 232975
Fax: +264 61 248016

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Journalist arrested and assaulted.

Wakiso, 21st/Oct/2011; A New Vision journalist has been arrested for accessing Dr. Kiiza Besigye’s residence located at Kasangati, Wakiso district without police permission.
Since Monday the 17th/ Oct/2011 police has been camping at the residence of the opposition leader and keeping him under house arrest.
Herbert Ssempoogo a senior reporter at the New Vision a government owned paper had been assigned to cover Dr. Besigye’s press conference on 20th/Oct/2011.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that Ssempoogo was intercepted and arrested few meters away from Dr. Besigye’s gate.
“I was asked by police who had given me permission to access Dr. Besigye’s residence and I told them I was going to cover a press conference and on that note I produced my identity.  A police officer ordered for my arrest and I tried to run away because of fear but they caught up with me and had me arrested” said Ssempoogo.
He said after the arrest he was taken before the commanding officer one Sam Omara (heading police camping at Dr. Besigye’s residence) who slapped me thrice and ordered that I should be handcuffed. He was then ordered to sit on the ground, remove his shoes and later driven to Kasangati police station.
Ssempoogo narrated that upon arriving at Kasangati police station he was ordered to record a statement after which he was released without a charge.
“It’s clear that the police force is holding rights and freedoms of journalists hostage. We wonder where these powers come from because there is no law in Uganda or international treaties that oblige journalists to seek permission from police on matters concerning their work” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala
HRNJ-Uganda condemn such practices in the strongest term possible as we study the law to deal with one Sam Omara
We also call upon the Uganda Human Rights Commission to speed up its investigations into violations committed against journalists during the April Walk to Work.
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

Television reporter injured while covering a demonstration

Wakiso; 20th/Oct/2011, The NTV reporter Julius Ssenkandwa has been stoned by unidentified person and injured while he was covering the arrest of the opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye by police.
Dr. Besigye the leader of the opposition political party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was walking to work in protest of the skyrocketing commodity and fuel prices.
Human Rights and political activists in Uganda launched a second phase of the popular ‘Walk to Work’ on 17th/October/2011 demanding for government intervention following the first one in April 2011.   
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that police condoned off all roads leading to Dr. Besigye’s residence from Kasangati trading centre, Wakiso district and all journalists who covered the arrest went through bushes to access the scene.
Ssenkandwa told HRNJ-Uganda that he struggled to reach at Kasangati health centre which is three (3) kilometers to Dr. Besigye’s residence. He said he found law enforcement officers including police forcefully arresting the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supporters including Dr. Besigye’s aides.
“Police tried to block me from filming the scuffle alleging that the footage aired on our station taints police’s image.  I insisted and moved on with my work but within no minute a stone hit my forehead close to my left eye and sustained a big cut” said Ssenkandwa
He said he rushed to a nearby Kasangati health centre where he received four stitches.
Several FDC supporters were arrested and Dr. Besigye was forced to return to his home where he’s currently under house arrest by police.
“We fear for the safety and security of journalists who cover these demonstrations because they are being targeted by law enforcement officers in a bid to block them from publishing their wrong deeds committed against demonstrators. We wonder what could happen to demonstrators if these violations are committed where there’s no camera” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala
HRNJ-Uganda recalls that during the April 2011Walk to Work demonstration more than 30 journalists were deprived of their rights and freedoms by law enforcement officers.
We demand that all security organs involved in quelling demonstrators to adhere to the principles of keeping law and order.
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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Radio station succumb to pressure, suspends a political talks-how

Masindi, 5th/October/2011; Kitara fm has reportedly suspended its political talk show and replaced it with a sports programme due to pressure from the Resident District Commissioner.
The station’s Director reportedly made the decision after he attended one of the district security meetings in which the issue was discussed.
The suspended talk-show Kikukwasireho meaning ‘What concerns you’ in English has been aired every Sunday between 12:00 and 3:00pm and hosted by Samuel Kajumba aka Lucky Sam.
The talk-show has sparked controversy since September this year and Kajumba has since undergone questioning by various district security officials who have demanded an apology from him.
The problem stem from September 18th talk-show which accused UPDF soldiers of having used brutal methods while arresting one Roger Musinguzi, a proprietor of a bar in Masindi town.
The Masindi Resident District commissioner Maj. David Matovu has reportedly reiterated the need for Kajumba to apologize to him. Matovu accused Kajumba was misleading the public and causing unnecessary confusion to discredit the otherwise good image of security.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that RDC Matovu is allegedly demanding for an apology directly from the radio whose actions have resulted into the management pressuring Kajumba to do so.
We have also noted that Kajumba was turned away by his bosses on 2nd/September/2011 when he reported for work.
“When I went to the radio for a talk-show my bosses asked me why I had not yet sent him my apology to the RDC Matovu. He told me not to tempt him to lose his patience” Kajumba said on 5th/October/11.
He added that he was contemplating to apologize to save his job although he said his conscience was telling him that he is innocent.
When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the Director of Kitara FM Abdu Alifaijo Kiirya he declined to comment on the developments saying he does not discuss station matters outside the radio premises.
“We question RDC Matovu’s interest in the apology. Our fear that such an apology can be used against the radio or presenter for aiding someone to desert the army since the person who was brutally arrested was lined before division court martial, charged with desertion and pleaded guilty” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala
HRNJ-Uganda demands that RDC Matovu should pursue his case in courts of law other than being deceptive to the journalist.
We also call upon the radio management to exercise its independence and professionalism as away to defend its employee.
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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Journalist under harassment over a political talk show

Masindi, 26th/Sept/2011; Radio Kitara talk-show host Samuel Kajumba is under harassment by security officials in Masindi District over a talk show which they claim incited sections of the public.
Kajumba a.k.a Lucky Sam hosts a Sunday political talk-show ‘Kikukwasireho’ meaning ‘What Concerns You” in English aired from Mid-day to 3pm. The show all political related issues in a local perspective.
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that on September 18th, Kajuma hosted a show which discussed the manner under which the army arbitrarily arrested one Roger Musinguzi, a proprietor of a bar in Masindi town. Musinguzi was allegedly accused of deserting the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF).
Since then Kajumba has been undergoing intimidation and receiving orders from district security committee to make an apology.
Kajumba told HRNJ-Uganda that during the show callers and himself condemned the brutal arrest of Musinguzi and that he wondered why several army deserters including those who are in Rwanda were not being arrested the same way they have done to Musinguzi
He added that he was summoned by the Masindi District Security Committee headed by Resident District Commissioner Rtd. David Matovu on Wednesday the 21st/Sept/2011 explain the statements he made during the show.
RDC Matovu accused Kajumba for misleading the public and causing unnecessary confusion to discredit the otherwise good image of security.
“I was intimidated particularly by Masindi Resident District Commissioner Rtd. Maj. Matovu and threatened me to be taken to military court. He forced me to make both a verbal and written apologies to him (RDC) which haven’t written to date” said Kajumba.
Kajumba said due to fear of being arrested and taken to military court, he is considering apologizing.
Kajumba is the second journalist to be harassed by the same Maj. Matovu after the Red Pepper reporter Tony Kizito who was arbitrarily arrested and detained in Mukono police station before RDC Matovu was transferred to Masindi district. 
When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the Director of Kitara FM Abdu Alifaijo Kiirya who also attended the meeting, he declined to comment on the treatment of the presenter
“It’s a shame that such a high ranking public officer can turn his office into a judicial body to intimidate a journalist. He must understand that offending sections of the public must be justified and cannot stand alone without a complainant. The RDC should not be the complainant and the judge” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala
He added that if RDC Matovu was offended by the talk-show, he should have used lawful means to complaint against the journalist.
HRNJ-Uganda stresses the need for the government to organise induction courses for its RDCs in order to internalize their constitutional mandate of monitoring government programmes as per article 203 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627