Assaulted Reuters journalist seeks 400 Million in compensation

By Sania Babirye

A Ugandan journalist working with an international media house Reuters whose picture of him being beaten by a group of soldiers during a protest against the arrest and detention of Kyadondo East Member of parliament on the 20th of August last year went viral has petitioned the high court seeking over 400 million shillings in compensation.

According to Documents before high court civil division , James Akena says that the said assault happened while he was covering a protest against Bobiwine’s continued detention at Makindye military barracks.

Through his lawyers of AF Mpanga, Akena claims that three soldiers in military uniforms pounced on him and started beating him uncontrollably yet he had identified to the assailants that he was a journalist just doing his work and not a protester.

Akena further claims that the said soldiers later bundled him on their track and took him to Qualicel bus terminal where the said soldiers continued to assault him before eventually setting him free.

He is now asking court to compel government to refund his 390 million shillings that he allegedly lost during the said assault, his damaged camera worth 29 million shillings, a phone and watch.

Akena further wants court to order government to pay all his medical expenses he had incurred while treating himself at Kampala Independent hospital amounting to 7million and sixty thousand shillings as a result of his injured back and another 600,000 shillings in transport costs from his home in Ntinda to the hospital which he is still incurring.

He is also seeking 65 million shillings in compensation being the money he lost while he was bedridden and away from work and also force the attorney General to be responsible for the said soldiers actions and compensation.

He says that he was humiliated beyond any reasonable doubt when a video footage showing him being assaulted by members of the number one security organization in the country went viral on social media.

He also wants the attorney General to issue a public apology for the said soldier’s actions saying he has been forced to seek court redress after the police failed to investigate his case he reported at the central police station a year ago.

Meanwhile since his arrest, the UPDF came out and apologized for the actions of their servants referring to such soldiers as unprofessional.

The army also promised to punish the said soldiers although it remains to be seen.

UCC suspension directive stopped

By Sania Babirye
Kampala High court judge Lydia Mugambe has issued an interim injunction stopping media houses from implementing a directive from Uganda Communication Commission to suspend 39 journalists until final determination of their case

Justice Mugambe has noted that if the directive is not stopped it will impact the rights of journalists.

She has further stated that although she has put into consideration UCCs regulatory mandate, she says that the mandate should mot be uses to curtail the human rights and freedoms of the media.

She has further ruled that much as she is mindful of the regulatory mandate of UCC and national security , the two cannot be used as excuse to tamp on human Rights.

Justice Mugambe has also wondered why a case of possible incitement of violence was reported to UCC and not the Directorate of Criminal intelligence of Police.

She has also described the said directive as a rush decision that was undertaken by UCC and also dismissed the resolutions that were reached up in the meeting by UCC’s with media house managers that took place on the 7th of May 2019.

In the said meeting it was resolved that the 39 journalists merely step aside instead of being suspended until the investigations are complete.

But justice Mugambe has stated the said resolutions are meat to defeat justice because there was an already pending case in court filed on the 2nd of May 2019 .

Following the court injunction, the said suspended journalists who had been ordered to step aside from their duties as producers, Head of newsrooms, production and programming following can now resume their duties until court orders otherwise .

Meanwhile the main case will be heard on Tuesday next week.

On the 16th of this month, the Uganda Communication commission asked justice Lydia Mugambe to not issue an interim order stopping the 30th April directive suspending head of programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses.

UCC lawyers led by Abdul Salam Waiswa and Mastiko told justice Mugambe that if the interim injunction is issued, it will undermine UCCs Authority to regulate Media houses.
These then asked court to maintain the directive of the alleged 39 journalists to be given other roles until on going investigations are complete.
The journalist body(UJA) says the UCC directive is
disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and that in doing so UCC exceeded the powers vested in the media council.

Through its two members, calling themselves concerned citizens are seeking an interim injunction against a directive of the Uganda Communication Commission until their main case is heard and disposed off.

The petitioners include Bwire Arnold and Henry Byansi.

According to the duo who calls themselves Human rights activists and advocates of the rule of law among other things, the UCC directive was unfair and unjust since UCC did not act fairly yet by law its mandated to be fair and just.

The media houses affected included Capital radio and its sister radio beat FM.

Kabale District Chairman Beats up journalist for investigating him

By Moses Kidandi

The Kabale District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Mr. Keihwa Patrick Besigye is on the spot for allegedly slapping a radio journalist.

Arinitwe Emmanuel a journalist with voice of Kigezi says the genesis of the assault arose from a story he had earlier covered at the District Council meeting, during which the district councilors tasked Mr. Keihwa Patrick Besigye to explain what actions he had taken against the former Acting District Engineer, Mr. Kiganda James.

An investigation by district officials had unearthed that Mr. Kiganda James had embezzled about Ug.Shs. 40,000,000 (over USD 10,000) that was meant for the construction of 4 roads within the District.

When Mr. Kiganda was invited to appear before the council to explain the circumstances under which the said money had disappeared, he snubbed the summons prompting the Council to task the LC5 chairperson to initiate ways of recovering the money and ensuring that appropriate disciplinary and legal action is taken against Mr. Kiganda.

Mr. Keihwathe chairman  stormed the studio and beat up the journalist while ranting and hurling insults as to why they were publishing the information.

Robert Sempala the National coordinator Human Rights network for journalists says the actions by the chairman are part of the  numerous human rights violations in the form of intimidation, harassment and violence that media practitioners experience in their line of work .

Vision group journalist arrested for posing with a fire arm

Bonny Odongo, a Lira based Vision Group journalist has been arrested for allegedly being in possession of an illegal firearm.

Odongo, a Sub Editor of Rupiny Newspaper, a sister publication to ‘The New Vision’ was picked by police flying squad last evening from Lira town and he is now held at Lira Central Police Station.

His arrest stems from a photo of him posing with a pistol while drinking in a bar. The picture has made several rounds on various social media platforms over the last one week.

Joel Tubanone, the Lira District Police commander confirmed the arrest adding that investigations are underway to establish how the journalist accessed the pistol.

Odongo has since disassociated himself from the photo arguing that it could be a result of Photoshop by his foes.





Held Ugandan Journalists released without charges

Eight journalists were picked up in Kampala this morning for allegedly staging an unlawful assembly.

They are Moses Bayola, the Secretary General Uganda Journalist Association-UJA, his Deputy Dan Mukisa, Issa Kigongo, a reporter with Bilal Radio, Jonathan Tusingwire from Pearl FM, Issa Nakabale from Urban TV, Philip Onyango from Mama FM and Ronald Kabuye, Metro FM.

Police intercepted the journalists outside Grand Imperial Hotel as they led a procession from Sheraton Hotel to Emerald Hotel in Wandegeya to commemorate the International World Press Freedom Day.

The journalists were dragged to Kampala Central Police Station where they were locked up. Emilian Kayima, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, says they picked up the journalists because they didn’t notify police about their procession.

However, Police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector of Police, Asan Kasingye says he had ordered the release of the journalists. “I have ordered for the release of any arrested journalist. It’s not right.  Today is World press freedom day. Police must not be embroiled in factions of journalists,” he said.

By the time of filing this story, the journalists were yet to walk of Kampala Central Police Station.

Journalist nurses injuries after suspected Kayihura supporters hit him

By Moses Kidandi
A journalist with  Bukedde newspaper is still nursing injuries after being beaten  by  boda boda  cyclists  claiming to  be supporters of the Inspector General of Police  Gen. Kale Kayihura. Joseph Mutebi was hit on the head, chest, back, stomach as he took pictures of Kaihuras supporters smashing lawyer Abdallah Kiwanuka’s car.
Kiwanuka is representing three complainants in a torture case instituted by private prosecution against the IGP.  Gen. Kayihura and seven senior police officers were expected to appear before the Chief Magistrate, Richard Mafabi, of Makindye Magistrates Court to answer charges of torture against supporters of former presidential candidate Rtd. Col.  Kizza Besigye. They did not turn up.