Google+ Followers

Saturday, 25 May 2013

From the rule of law to the rule by law: President Yoweri Museveni’s government continues with the closure of media houses despite Court order to vacate those premises


First Read;

General Sejusa Exposes Museveni’s plan to assassinate Generals and cadres opposed to the plan to have his son Muhoozi, as his successor(Muhoozi project) : Media houses closed and under siege over publishing Gen. Sejusa’s Whistle blowing letter.

'Muhoozi Project': By Installing Son, Gen. Museveni Hopes To Defer Prosecution

Activists slam government over Monitor closure

Civil society activists Friday attacked President Yoweri Museveni’s government over the continued closure of Monitor Publications Limited despite a court order directing police to vacate the premises.

Activists demonstrate near the closed Monitor Publications headquarters on Thursday. They were later dispersed by Riot Police. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa. 

The activist told journalists at the Human Rights Network for Journalists offices in Ntinda,a Kampala suburb, that the closure amounts to “economic sabotage, impunity and a contravention of the Constitution.”

Police on Monday besieged Monitor premises in Namuwongo with a search warrant purportedly in quest of a letter written by Gen. David Sejusa, the coordinator of Security Services. The premises have remained under siege despite another court order which cancelled the one police used to surround Monitor.

So far, 8th Street in Industrial Area has been closed to public use, with riot police blocking the road. More officers armed with guns and teargas canisters are also on site.

Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director, NGO Forum, said the seizing of Monitor premises was not “only a misinterpretation of the law but an abuse of the law”

Police arrest activists near monitor premises  on Thursday. they were protesting the continued closure of Monitor Publications. Four of them were arrested. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa 

“The logic of the state is becoming hard to understand. Do they need three days to search? When you publish or broadcast, will the document they are looking for fly away? Mr Ssewakiryanga wondered.

He added: “We must not forget about the business interests of the closed media houses. Who will compensate the people who have been advertising with the paper and are now losing income?”

Retired Bishop Zac Nirigiye rallied Ugandans to start asking tough questions about the conduct of government, saying Uganda has been on a path of “consistent degeneration” since the removal of term limits in 2005.

“We are sounding an alarm for President Museveni because he is on a path of de-legitimising himself as government deliberately acts with impunity. The Office of the Prime Minister should have been declared a crime scene when some of its officials were being investigated by police,” Bishop Niringiye said.


Rights body condemns police raid on Monitor, Red Peper

Thursday, 23 May 2013 22:01

Written by Prisca Baike

he Uganda Human Rights Commission has criticized the government for Monday’s attack on independent media houses, Monitor and Red Pepper Publications.

In a statement read to journalists on Wednesday, UHRC expressed concern at the way the police raided the media houses, ostensibly in search of documents authored by Gen David Sejusa.

“The freedom of the press is a part of a wider fundamental freedom of speech and expression, which underpins all other human rights and democratic freedoms,” said acting Chairperson Stephen Basaliza.

Although the police got search warrants for the two sets of premises, they have since shut down the respective printing facilities. Basaliza said the police should have stuck to the provisions of the court order.

“The manner in which the media houses were cordoned off breached the fundamental principle of the inalienable right to a fair hearing and the move by police to compel the journalists to reveal their source of information is in contravention of their professional ethical standards.”

He added that the UHRC viewed the events as a threat to the enjoyment of media freedoms in the country and the closure amounted to a denial of information to the public, contrary to Article 29(1) (a) of the Constitution.
Basaliza said the UHRC would try to reconcile government and the affected media houses by creating a conducive environment for all players to exercise this and other rights without hindrance.


Court sets May 30 for the hearing of Monitor case

By Monitor Reporter

Posted  Friday, May 24  2013 at  13:56

Court has set May 30 as the date for the hearing of an application by Monitor Publications Limited to cancel a court order, compelling editors and reporters to produce the original letter that was written by Gen David Sejusa.

The letter, addressed to the Director General of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Col Ronnie Balya, was advising the intelligence agency to investigate allegations that there was a plot to eliminate top government officials opposed to a so-called “Muhoozi Project”.

The project is allegedly planning to have Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba installed as president after his father, Mr Museveni, retires.

The application will be heard by Justice Benjamin Kabiito.

State should stop muzzling free press - Monitor Editors

By Monitor Editors

Posted  Monday, May 20  2013 at  17:05

KAMPALA. A free press is an essential part of a democracy. It is not a luxury. A free press holds the powerful and the wealthy to account. It asks questions. It investigates. It defends the weak. The press is not perfect.

But better an imperfect media than a passive one, which does as it is told by those who have power and money. That is the route to dictatorship.Today the freedom of the press in Uganda is under threat.Armed police surrounded yesterday the offices of the Monitor. Detectives searched the building.

They shut down KFM and Dembe, the two radio stations which are owned by the Monitor’s parent company, Monitor Publications, which operate out of the same building.Red Pepper, the boisterous tabloid, was given the same treatment.The government has grown increasingly angry about the media’s coverage of what has become known as the General David Sejusa affair.The Monitor broke the story and has reported it objectively and accurately.

This newspaper does not know if the claims by Gen Sejusa, commonly known as Tinyefuza about sinister plots over the succession to the President are true. However, we have a duty to report what the general, as a senior figure in the establishment, is saying. We also have a duty to report what others, enemies and friends, say about him.By raiding the Monitor and Red Pepper Government has elevated a story about feuding within Uganda’s government and military into an international incident.

They have lost the chance to put across their side of the story.In today’s world, of instant, 24 hour news, transmitted in a myriad of ways, it is impossible to silence criticism by attacking radios and newspapers. The government should remember that.

Following the Monday afternoon police raid at the Monitor Publication head offices in Namwongo, the Managing Editor, Mr Alex Asimwe, issued a statement condemning the unwarranted development. Below is the statement in full.

The management of Monitor Publications Ltd strongly condemns the closure by Uganda Police today of its newspaper, The Monitor, and its Radio Stations, KFM and Dembe FM. About 50 armed men in Police Uniform stormed the company's premises at Namuwongo at noon with a Search warrant, blocked all exits and insisted they wanted to conduct a search.

They claimed to be looking for a document associated with a story that has been widely covered by all media quoting a letter from General David Tinyefuza to the head of the internal intelligence services on an alleged assassination plot.

Instead of carrying out the search, the armed men disabled the printing press, computer servers and radio transmission equipment.

The intention was to prevent the Monitor from operating broadcasting and printing its newspapers.

"We are horrified by this act, which is a gross disregard of Ugandan Law and a violation of The Monitor's constitutional right, said Mr. Alex Asiimwe, The MPL Managing Director. "This matter is in court and management has contested the demand by the police for us to disclose the source of the story, and the matter is yet to be decided."

He added: "It is particularly perturbing that the police ordered our operations shut down under the pretext of carrying out a search. It is unacceptable that our business should be crippled on a dispute which should be settled in court."

By this afternoon Police were still at the Monitor's premises as management sought to vacate the court order granted to them by a magistrate.

We thank our listeners and customers for their support and assure them that we are making every effort to resume our newspaper and broadcast operations.

 Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, Museveni's right hand man

Oulanyah blocks motion to re-open Daily Monitor


Posted  Thursday, May 23  2013 at  18:30

Parliament- Lawmakers calling themselves “friends of independent media” Wednesday castigated the decision of the deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to block a key motion that sought among others to force government to re-open the closed media houses.

After an emotional debate in the House that ended at about 9:30pm on Wednesday, Busiro East MP Medard Ssegona (DP) and Buyaga MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West) moved a motion seeking for a resolution of parliament to reopen Daily Monitor, Kfm, Dembe FM and Red Pepper ‘forthwith’ but was blocked by Mr Oulanyah through unclear circumstance.      

In his wisdom, the deputy Speaker told the members who accused the government of muzzling free speech and freedom of the press-- the epitome of democracy, that Parliament does not have any powers to direct the government to reopen the closed media houses before he asked the friends of independent media to “get serious”.

Mr Oulanyah also advised the aggrieved members to seek legal redress in the Constitutional Court. When members pushed the deputy speaker to allow them amend the motion so that parliament can condemn the state clamp down on independent media, Mr Oulanyah said: “It’s the decision of the court, we [parliament] don’t want to interfere with the [on-going] police investigations. That motion will bring parliament into disrepute.”

The police authorities have since defied the court order directing them to vacate the Monitor Publications premises they seized since Monday. On Thursday, instead of opening the gates to allow employees to access their offices, police deployed more officers. The lawmakers yesterday brought this to the attention of the deputy speaker but nothing was done to assist jobless employees and the affected businesses.

Trouble started after the lawmakers rejected a statement from Internal Affairs Minister Eng Hillary Onek on what they called the illegal closure of media house as “useless” and “ludicrous”.  “Gen David Sejusa is an MP and a senior serving army officer, a member of High Command. The Minister must account for the whereabouts of Gen Ssejusa to provide the information about the letter. I have not seen any complaint from him denying the letter The Monitor published. He is the author of the letter not Daily Monitor which you have declared a scene of crime,” Ms Ann Nankabirwa (NRM, Kyankwanzi said.  

The lawmakers led by Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Gerald Karuhanga (Youth Western) and Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda (Kyadondo East) wondered whether the police search warrant from court necessitated closure of the media houses. They also asked the police to look for Gen Ssejusa and stop harassing journalists.

Others like Jack Wamai Wamanga praised Gen Ssejusa for speaking out yet Mr Julius Maganda (Indep, Samia Bugwe South) said: “Gen Ssejusa wrote that letter in good faith and he spoke on behalf of the cowards in the army. We would like to know as parliament whether Gen Ssejusa is in exile or he simply extended his stay in the UK?”

Earlier parliament compelled Eng Onek to produce the search warrant on which police based their action against the independent media. Eng Onek tabled two letters from Executive Director Uganda Communications Commission Godfrey Mutabazi dated May 20th which the lawmakers suspected to have been backdated. This explains why Mr Ssegona has moved a motion that the appropriate committee of parliament investigates the purported letters from UCC.

 Explaining the closure of independent media houses, Eng Onek said: “This is a sad period for our country. The letter gave an impression of a divided government with a divided army which is not the case.” The minister promised to convey members concerns to authorities in government for corrective measures.

The minister also explained that at the beginning of the investigations, the police interest was to establish the authenticity of Gen Ssejusa’s letter published by Daily Monitor and that police had received prior information that Daily Monitor was about to publish additional information related to Gen Ssejusa’s letter. But in what the lawmakers called political semantics intended to hoodwink Ugandans and the international community, the minister said the newspapers and the radio stations have not been closed but have been told to halt operations.