Uganda: Journalist Remanded Over Criminal Defamation Charges

This statement was origninally published on hrnjuganda.org on June 21, 2016.

Waligo Sadati a journalist with Red Pepper, based in Lyantonde District has today 21st June, 2016 been remanded over criminal defamation charges. He was remanded to Kakondo prison until Thursday 23rd June, 2016, by Lyantonde Grade One magistrate Muyinda Tadeo. Sadati is accused of defaming the Lyantonde Resident District Commissioner, Sulaiman Tugaragara Matojo. Prosecution, alleges that Sadati on 17th January, 2016, published a defamatory statement against Matojo in Kamunye newspaper.

On the other hand, Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Karemani, continued hearing another criminal defamation case in which four journalists, Ronald Nahabwe and Benson Tugumisirize of the Red Pepper, Madina Nalwanga and Patrick Tumwesigye of the New Vision are accused of defaming Kampala business men, Ephraim Ntaganda and Drake Lubega.

The Police Investigating officer, James Kalibuliro, while being cross examined by the journalist’s lawyers said he does not “recall” what he recorded in his statement, when asked to recollect what he wrote in his statement. Asked further whether he found it necessary to investigate land grabbing claims as reported in the newspapers, he said no.

He told Court that Ntaganda the complainant told him that the allegations that appeared in the newspapers were false. On the basis of Ntaganda’s information and the newspaper Articles, he arrested the journalists. Asked whether he verified who has the responsibility of publishing articles in the newspapers, he said it was the accused persons responsible not the news. Pressed further on whether it was the accused persons responsible for publishing Newspapers Articles, he said it was the media houses.

The case was adjourned to 15th July, 2016 for further cross examination.

“We are concerned about the escalating criminal defamation charges against journalists. We believe that the journalists are deliberately targeted. We condemn such practices and call upon police to respect media freedom,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

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