Police interrogates journalists at CIID Headquarters

L-R Milton, Taddeo Ssenyonyi, Atwine Bob, Robert Ssempala, Andrew Irumba, Ramond Wamala and Akera Derick Otim at CIID headquarters after journalists had recorded their statments Photo credit: Emmanuel Magambo

Kibuli 24th May, 2018; Four journalists appeared at the Criminal Investigations Directorate Headquarters Kibuli on 22nd May 2018 following the summons that were issued by Mr. Kototyo William, the Director of Cyber and Financial Crimes. Andrew Irumba, Bob Atwine, Taddeo Ssenyonyi, John Njoroge of Spy Uganda, Spy Reports, Business Focus and CEO Magazine respectively were grilled in relation to their online publications about the leaked bank and mobile money transaction details of Ms. Justine Bagyenda, the Director in Charge of Supervision at Bank of Uganda.

On the 9th day of May, 2018, Mr. Kototyo William issued summons to seven journalists of online publications, namely; Mr. Richard Wanambwa of Eagle Online, Mr. Giles Muhame of Chimp Reports, Mr. Tadeo Ssenyonyi of Business Focus, Mr. Bob Atwine of Spy Reports, Mr. Andrew Irumba of Spy Uganda and Mr. John Njoroge of CEO Magazine. They were directed to appear at the CID headquarters at on 22nd May 2018 at 10:00 am to assist in investigations on purported charges of libel contrary to Section 179 and 180 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 120 and Offensive Communication, contrary to Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act of 2011.

However, Giles Muhame, Darius Mugisha and Richard Wanambwa did not appear. They wrote a letter through their lawyer, Galisonga Julius of Galisonga & Co. Advocates asking for more time to prepare their documentation that the Police had requested for in the summons.

While at Kibuli, the journalists were informed that a complaint had been filed by Ms. Bagyenda Justine against the said media houses alleging defamation and fear for her security and that of her family, following the revelations made in the various news stories published on line. The

The journalists were questioned about the origin of their stories as well as, whether they had conducted due diligence and verified the origin of the stories and the general nature and effect of their publications.

During statement recording, all the journalists owned up to their stories and categorically stated that the stories were already in the public domain and were ascertained to be true, and that in their role to inform the public, they had only shaded light to a story that was worthy of public scrutiny since Ms. Bagyenda was a public figure holding an important public office.

They expressed willingness to invite Ms. Bagyenda to give her side of the story for publication, in a bid to clear the air, if indeed she disputes the publications as false and defamatory. They implored the police to divert more energy and resources into investigating Ms. Bagyenda’s suspicious wealth instead of harassing them since they are only a conduit of information to the public.

The journalists who were represented by the HRNJ-Uganda lawyer Akera Derrick Otim in the company of the Executive Director Robert Ssempala Include Andrew Irumba, Taddeo Ssenyonyi and Bob Atwine. John Njoroge from CEO Magazine was represented by Nicholas Opiyo from Chapter Four Uganda.

We are delighted that the journalists have been released without being charged, we however encourage the Police to work closely with journalists and to refrain from stifling the right to free speech and media. Being the mouth piece of society, journalists should be allowed to carry out their duty of informing the public without any threats of harassment or violation of their Constitutional rights” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator 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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