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Court dismisses libel and offensive communication cases against Drone Media journalist

Kampala, 18th /September /2019; Makindye Chief Magistrates Court has on 18th September 2019 dismissed a case in which Pidson Kareire, a Drone Media Journalist was accused of criminal libel and offensive communication by Middle East Consultants Limited, a labor export company in Uganda.

This came after HRNJ-Uganda’ counsel Daniel Walyemera prayed to court to have the matter dismissed under section 119 of the Magistrates Court Act after the prosecution lawyer Charles Nsubuga of Muwema & Co. Advocates as well as Gordon Mugyenyi, the complainant failed to appear in court for three consecutive times.

Counsel Walyemera further prayed to court for compensation and the legal costs that the accused person had incurred under section 196 of the Magistrates Courts Act which is to the effect that upon dismissal of any private prosecution by a magistrate’s court, the court may order the private prosecutor to pay to the accused person, in addition to his or her costs, a reasonable sum as compensation for the trouble and expense to which the person may have been put by reason of the charge.

However, court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Okumu Muwonge dismissed the matter for want of prosecution, but did not grant the prayer for compensation and costs, and advised that if the accused person is interested in compensation and costs, he should institute a civil suit.

“I am happy that the matter was dismissed, although I wanted compensation which was not granted. I will however file a civil suit to gain damages and costs,” said Pidson Kareire.

Middle East Consultants which instituted the matter by private prosecution alleged that Pidson Kareire published statements on the internet to the effect that they extort money from job seekers. They claimed that the statements were not true and were intended to defame and expose them to hatred, contempt and ridicule. They further contended that the statements were made with no purpose of legitimate communication and were aimed at disturbing the peace and right of privacy of Middle East Consultants.

“We welcome this new development from Court. It’s unfortunate that people with economic muscles have resorted to framing charges against journalists as a way of intimidating them from holding them accountable. We urge journalists to always carry out their work diligently without fear for intimidation notwithstanding. We also appeal to the judiciary to always exercise its independence and deliver timely justice to victims,” said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director, Robert Ssempala

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