Wednesday, April 30, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Medical practitioner testifies against a school teacher in a journalist’s assault case

Kampala, 29th April 2014;Further  hearing of a case in which a Vision Group Journalist, Mathias Ssebwato Kavubu was allegedly assaulted by a teacher at Old Kampala Secondary School, Ataremwa Justus, continued on Tuesday April 29 at the Law Development Centre Court, with the medical doctor giving his evidence.

Dr. Ojara Santos who examined the journalist after the alleged assault told court presided over by Magistrate Jolly Nkore, that Sebwato was found with injuries on his body which were classified as harm, “He had closed injury close to his chest wall and the left hand. His teeth on the left side of the face both upper and lower had a mild shake. The injury was classified as harm.” The doctor told court, adding that the injury was caused by a blunt object.

Prosecution alleges that on 17th October 2012, Sebwato, a freelance journalist working with Bukedde television had gone to Old Kampala Secondary School to interview a senior four (4) student who had allegedly been denied permission to sit her UCE exams under unclear circumstances. He successfully interviewed the girls’ parents but when he attempted to interview the student, the accused together with others pounced on him and beat him up, before he was locked up in a room from where he was rescued by Old Kampala police.

The case was adjourned to 28th May 2014 for further hearing, where also the prosecution is expected to close its case.

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: / / Website:; BLOG:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Radio Manager fired over hosting opposition politicians.

Hoima, 15th/April/2014; Spice FM radio in Hoima, Western Uganda has fired its station Manager, Geoffrey Magezi for hosting opposition politicians. Magezi, who has managed the station for over two years, was verbally dismissed on 15th/ April/2014.

On Saturday, 12th April 2014, between  9:20pm- 10:30pm local time, the station hosted the former opposition leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party , Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leader of the FDC Women’s’ league Ingrid Turinawe and the Democratic Party President Norbert Mao among others to discuss electoral reforms  in the run up to the 2016 general elections.

 “The problem was hosting Kizza Besigye without his (Agaba’s) consent. Since I was the manager, someone needed to be blamed and the blame ended up in a sacking… our hosting of the politicians followed a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the opposition politicians and the police not to stop such foras.” Magezi told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview.

The station proprietor, Edgar Agaba denied firing Magezi for hosting the opposition politicians. “That’s not the reason, but he flouted the rules of the station like recording down the numbers of politicians before hosting them, writing down the talking points for the host to follow and balancing the show by hosting someone from government among others. He failed to live by the rules of the station, so I terminated his services. I can’t stand that at my radio; you can quote me on this.” Agaba told HRNJ-Uganda.

In March this year, police stormed two radio stations in Western Uganda and ordered the untimely stopping of the talk shows, while the politicians were blocked from accessing two other stations within the region.

Restriction of free flow of information is an inhibition to freedom of expression.  We call upon media proprietors to engage with their staff on regulatory procedures and standards rather than resorting to radical measures, said Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator, HRNJ-Uganda.

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: / / Website:; BLOG:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, three cyclists arrested over violent assault of a journalist

Kampala, 14th/April/2014; police in Kitebi, Rubaga division, Kampala district have arrested three suspects in connection with assaulting a Vision Group journalist, Ddamba Ismael occasioning him grievous bodily harm. The particulars of the trio have not yet been released.

Ddamba, a journalist with the Vision Group’s Bukedde Newspaper was attacked by a mob of angry commercial motorcycle (boda boda) cyclists on 12th/April/2014 while he covered them demanding for the release of their colleague who had been detained by the cyclists’ leaders for allegedly failing to pay operational fees at Kabowa in Kampala. The angry cyclists intended to lynch the journalist whom they accused of being a police spy, but police fired bullets in the air to rescue him
 “It started by a man questioning why I was photographing them. They mobbed me up and started beating me. I got serious injuries on the head, arm and leg. I lost a finger nail on my thumb. I was rescued by the police who fired in the air. My still camera was all shattered. I was rushed to Mulago clinic in Kabowa for treatment. I was stitched on the head. In the process I lost my wallet.” Ddamba told HRNJ-Uganda.
A journalist who witnessed this incident at Kibade boda-boda stage at Kabowa described it as very ugly, “It was a very ugly incident. His camera was completely destroyed. They were going to kill him if it hadn’t been for the police to fire in the air.” Vivian Nakitende told HRNJ-Uganda.
“We have arrested three people in connection to the incident and have charged them with assault. We want to take them to court. Isma had come to cover news, that’s why he was assaulted, occasioning him grievous bodily harm.” the Officer in Charge of Kabowa Police Station, Hamid Kabojja told HRNJ-Uganda.
Ddamba is the fourth journalist to be mobbed up while on duty in a space of two weeks. Abdul Kittata, a boda boda cyclist leader with the Boda Boda 2010 Association Uganda warned cyclists against resorting to violence to settle their scores.
HRNJ-Uganda commends the area police for acting swiftly to save the life of the journalist and consequently arresting some of the suspects. The suspects should also be charged with malicious damage to property. We hope that the culprits who are still at large are apprehended and prosecuted. We urge the police to ensure the safety of journalists especially those covering chaotic scenes. 
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: / / Website:; BLOG:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Media under continued attack; police raid radio stations in Western Uganda

                                                                                                         9th/ April / 2014

Press Statement: For immediate release

Media under continued attack; police raid radio stations in Western Uganda

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is dismayed and deeply concerned with the heightened narrowing space for the media in Uganda. For the last 3 months, we have witnessed numerous arbitrary raids, threats and orders to media houses by police and other State agencies.  Two radio stations in Western Uganda were raided by the police for allegedly accommodating ‘dissenting views’.  

The continued harassment and intimidation of journalists and the media by Police and other State machinery is leading to censorship of information for fear of being closed down.  The wanton acts of invading media houses, the compulsory accreditation of journalists, violently blocking peaceful assemblies and demonstrations by persons meant to provide protection to the citizenry is despicable most especially if geared towards narrowing space and limiting platforms for free exchange of opinions and ideas. This is contrary to the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and access to information.  

On the night of Thursday 27th-March-2014, police in Kabale Town, led by the Kabale District Police Commander, Mr Bosco Arop, stormed the studios of Voice of Kigezi radio and stopped a talk show in which Bishop (Rtd) Zac Niringiye and the FDC leader Mugisha Muntu had been hosted accusing the duo of ‘inciting violence and disturbing peace’. The 2-hour program had gone on for only 30 minutes when its host, Namanya Santurina, was ordered to halt it. Earlier in the day, the police ordered two other radio stations; Hope Radio and Kabale Freedom Radio not to host the electoral reform advocates, who have embarked on a nationwide campaign to gunner support for electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 general elections.

On Saturday, 29th_March-2014, police in Kasese raided another radio station -Kasese Guide Radio and stopped a talk show in which the FDC President Mugisha Muntu was being hosted. This attack on the radio was led by the Rwenzori Regional Police Commander (RPC), Thomas Kasimo, who claimed that the radio station was being used to incite violence. He invoked instructions from above to order the closure of the program claiming that Muntu’s presence was ‘inciting violence’. The show host, Edward Makanika, was forced to switch off the program pre-maturely. The RPC before blocking the radio talk show had earlier on stopped a public lecture at Kabale University claiming that it was ‘illegally planned’. 

Last year, the country witnessed the arbitrary siege and closure of The Monitor publications and its two sister radio stations and the Red pepper for 10 days over allegedly giving space to dissenting views. In November 2013, police arrested a Top Radio talk show host, Richard Kasule  a.k.a  Kamagu accusing him of ‘inciting violence’  after he had hosted the Kampala Deputy Lord Mayor, Sulaiman Kidandala. 

This situation has been aggravated by the introduction of onerous registration processes for journalists in Uganda including payment of high annual fees despite the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights declaring that these onerous processes amount to restrictions of the freedom to practice journalism and aim at controlling rather than regulating the profession. The unfair acts of government arm-twisting media houses to offer free prime time to state functionaries to ‘popularize government programs’ and labeling journalists partisan have negative impacts on freedom of expression and the media.

Debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open. Freedom of the press is fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people. The Media plays a very fundamental role in preserving a free and open society through dissemination of information that encourages debate and contributes to good governance in Uganda.

Therefore, an environment where free flow of information is restricted, people are intimidated for speaking out their minds and where journalists are blocked from disseminating information is unprogressive

Way forward
  1. Police should desist from interfering with media work under the guise of ‘orders from above’.
  2. Uganda Communications Commission and the Media Council should stop issuing unwarranted instructions to media houses
  3. The Ministry of Information and National Guidance should withdraw its irregular orders to broadcasters seeking for free airtime to popularize government programs
  4. Journalists and media practitioners should stand firm and fight for media space, freedom of expression and free speech.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

HRNJ-Uganda alert, Police rescue journalist from school teachers.

Mpigi, 07th/April/2014; Police in Mpigi district rescued a Vision Group journalist from three angry teachers of Lowell Girls’ School who mobbed him as he was covering a story of a fire break out at school on Saturday night, 05th/April/2014. The teachers were preventing the journalist from reporting about a fire outbreak in the school which is located at Nakirebe village, in Kiringete Sub-county, Mpigi district. 

Andrew Mugonza, a journalist with Bukedde television was filming the Director of the school while he addressed students immediately after the fire had been put out by the police, when a school teacher, whose names we have not readily established, confronted him and ordered him to stop the recording.

“A teacher who was seated next to the director confronted me as I was recording, then he ordered me to stop. He tried to grab my camera, when I resisted, he wrestled me down and we fell into the students. He was joined by two other male teachers, but the police acted in time to rescue me. My camera lens was damaged in the scuffle which lasted about two minutes.”  Mugonza told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview.

An officer at Mpigi Police station, Mujuni Micheal told HRNJ-Uganda that they rescued Mugonza, “A teacher who was seated next to the school Director confronted the journalist at night when he aimed a video camera towards the Director. I saw him pushing Mugonza. That’s I and another police officer intervened and asked him why he was pushing the journalist. When we blocked him, two other male teachers confronted us asking why we were blocking their colleague. They kept following us protesting against our act of blocking their colleague.”

The journalist however is yet to open up a complaint against the said teachers.

HRNJ-Uganda commends the police in Mpigi for moving fast to rescue the journalist. The police should investigate the conduct of the said teachers and take appropriate measures.

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+256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627+256-414-667627
E-mail: / / Website:; BLOG: