Nsangi, 9th/August/2023; Nsangi Magistrates Court has on the 9th August 2023 dismissed a case in which Andrew Arinaitwe, a journalist attached to New Vision and The Continent was charged with Criminal Trespass.
The case was dismissed by His Worship Watyekere George, a Grade One Magistrate at Nsangi Magistrates Court. This was after Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda’s (HRNJ-Uganda) lawyer Andrew Mumpenje moved the court to dismiss the charges for want of prosecution. Mumpenje argued that the state had never disclosed to court evidence that it intended to use against Arinaitwe as mandated under Article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
“Under Ugandan law, the state has a duty to prosecute the case with zeal and laxity, if detected, leads to dismissal of charges”…Counsel Andrew told court.
No state witness had ever appeared in court and defense counsel (Andrew Mumpenje) had never been served with a charge sheet upon which Arinaitwe was charged. These facts showed laxity of the state in prosecuting the matter. It’s upon this basis that court dismissed the case.
Court also ordered for a refund of the one million shillings cash bail that was paid by Arinaitwe.
Arinaitwe was on the 5th of March 2023 arrested and detained at Kings College Buddo Police post after he was found inside the school premises. He had gone to the school to do a story about the alleged sexual abuse by teachers. He was released on Police bond on the 6th of March. On the 9th of March 2023, he was remanded to Nkozi Prisons on charges of Criminal Trespass. Prosecution alleged that Arinaitwe trespassed into King’s College Buddo school premises.
It was a moment of joy for Arinaitwe, “I feel like a burden has been lifted off my back. It feels like having a rope off your neck.” Arinaitwe told HRNJ-Uganda.
Arinaitwe said that Uganda must address the loopholes in the judicial system. If someone has no evidence at the beginning and no witnesses, then the courts should not permit such weak and trivial cases to proceed.
Many cases have been filed against journalists and taken to court with no thorough investigations. This tactic has been used over time to intimidate and instill self-censorship among journalists.