Lyantonde, 23rd /June/ 2016; Sadati Waliggo, of Red Pepper newspaper was today morning 23rd /June/ 2016 granted a non cash bail of five hundred thousand Uganda shillings (USD 151) by Lyantonde Grade One Magistrate Muinda Tadeo. His sureties, Paul Sekandi, a journalist with Link FM and Nuruyati Namuleme a business woman were each required to pay two million Uganda shillings (USD 606) non cash. The Magistrate ordered Sadati to report back to court on 6th July, 2016.
Sadati, was on Tuesday 21st June, 2016 charged with criminal libel and remanded to Kakondo prison in Lyantonde. Prosecution alleges that Sadati posted on his facebook page defamatory statements against the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Lyantonde, Sulaiman Tugaragara Matojo. The alleged statements are said to have been uttered by Diana Kategaya, a widow of the late Eriya Kategaya the former Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda. The widow made the said statements during a press conference in her home in January 2015 accusing the RDC of conniving with people to steal her cows and entering her house while she was in a bathroom naked.
“This is intended to intimidate journalists not to expose the RDC implicated in wrong doing, but this will not stop me from doing my work,” Sadat told HRNJ-Uganda a few minutes after his release. He added that “as journalists we have to be strong, united and stand firm against the RDC who is threatening us.” He said the case was first reported to Police on 11th January, 2015 and until now he had not been charged. “I took myself to Court because I wanted this matter to come to an end after a long time of blackmail and intimidation by the RDC and Police in Lyantonde.”
Sadati becomes one of the over a dozen journalists facing criminal defamation charges. The complainants in these cases range from the President, government officials and politically connected business people. Of recent, Uganda has seen the rise in the use of section 179 of the Penal Code Act that provides for the offence of criminal defamation. Between 2015 and 2016 five journalists have been charged with the offence.
“The conduct of using criminal defamation to stifle, silence and create self-censorship in the media is on the rise in Uganda. We strongly condemn the behavior as HRNJ-Uganda. There is need to appreciate the fundamental role played by the media in the efforts to develop Uganda as a Country”said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.