Media rights body wants Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal against lenient sentence

HRNJ-Uganda officials addressing journalists at a press confernce Photo credit: Emmanuel Magambo

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda has promised to assist the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal against the sentence of a fine against the police officer who gruesomely attacked a journalist in 2014.

Addressing journalists at Hotel Triangle today in Kampala, the National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala said: “We shall assist Andrew Lwanga in all ways possible and work with the office of the Director of public prosecutions to appeal against the sentence in the high court because the offence Joram Mwesigye was convicted of attracts a maximum sentence of five years without an option of a fine but he wasn’t imprisoned for even a day”.

He said the sentence is not punitive enough and threatens freedom of the press. “The court should have done better to protect the media from such gruesome attacks and the lenient sentence in our view is one that will make the working environment for journalists degenerate to the worst and also one that will promote impunity.”

On Friday, March 10th 2017, the Chief Magistrates Court at Buganda Road, before Gladys Kamasanyu, convicted Joram Mwesigye, the former Old Kampala District Police Commander on charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and sentenced him to a fine of one million Uganda shillings [USD 280]. The officer was charged in 2014 for assaulting Andrew Lwanga a journalist who now walks with the support of clutches as a result of the beating.

We shall also ensure that Joram Mwesigye is summarily dismissed from the Uganda police force as per the Uganda police act because he is a convict not a suspect anymore and therefore a disgrace to the public service in general and Uganda police force in particular,” Ssempala said.

He said according to the Police Act under section 47(1) an officer at the rank of Assistant Superintendent of police and above convicted of a criminal offence must be dismissed.

Ssempala revealed that the organization will also appeal to the police authorities to inquire into the conduct of the investigations officer, Moureen Angienyo, who is suspected to have defeated the ends of justice in her investigations. He said the investigating officer left out vital evidence that was readily available like the stick used to beat Andrew Lwanga, the forensic experts report on the camera and that they shall ensure that she is investigated and brought to book.

We are also going to engage the Medical Council to investigate the police surgeon Luwamanya Emmanuel who in our view failed in his duty as a medical officer and what could have motivated him to act unprofessionally to defeat justice”, concluded Mr Robert Ssempala.

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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