Police interrogates editor for “offensive communication”

Kampala, 20th /June/2017; The editor of Red Pepper Publications, Ben Byarabaha, was today quizzed by the Uganda Police media crimes unit for six hours over alleged “offensive communication” for publishing stories about the health of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), General Kale Kayihura.

You allegedly published an article titled, “Kayihura rushed to India” with intent to disturb the peace, quiet and privacy of the said General Kale Kayihura, you are therefore required to report to the said headquarters on 20th June 2017,” read the summons signed by Commissioner Media Crimes, Oketcho Isaac on 15th June 2017.

Byarabaha reported to Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department headquarters in Kibuli at 11:00 am, from where he was interrogated for six hours by the Assistant Commissioner, Media Crimes, Emmanuel Mbonimpa. Charges of offensive communication were preferred against him under the Computer Misuse Act.

I was charged with offensive communication under the Computer Misuse Act, but I know the charges are baseless,” Byarabaha told HRNJ-Uganda in a telephone interview. He was released on police bond and ordered to report back on 27th June 2017 at 10:00am.

Of recent there has been a lot of speculation on the health of the IGP who has been missing from the public domain without clear explanation from police.

The health of the IGP is a matter of public concern, Byarabaha should not be penalized for reporting on a newsworthy issue. The police’s action is aimed at curtailing freedom of the press which is vital in holding public officials accountable. Those who value democratic principles cannot stand by while journalists like Byarabaha are penalized for disseminating information to the public,” said HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

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