HRNJ-Uganda alert, journalist jailed by police over news coverage

adrianKasangaati, 02nd/September/2014; Kasangati Chief Magistrate’ court has remanded a Vision Group journalist, Adrian Bwanika Bbaale to prison upto 23rd/September/2014, on allegations of ‘Disobedience of lawful orders’ by a police officer. Bwanika denied the charges.

Prosecution led by one only identified as Rachael alleges that Bwanika disobeyed lawful orders of a police officer on duty, Detective Assistant Yaye Paul at Kasangaati police station in Wakiso district. “Investigations are complete. I pray that we fix a date for hearing.” Racheal told court.

Bwanika who works for the government owned Vision Group’ Bukedde television was arrested Tuesday morning at Kasangaati police station as he covered a story of the arrest of a land dealer, popularly known as Hajji who the complainant, Ocheba Apollo accused of defrauding him of his land. Hajji was released immediately after his arrest under unclear circumstances.

Bwanika told HRNJ-Uganda that he was inhumanely arrested and his video camera confiscated, “I was assigned by my News Editor to cover the story. I came together with the complainant to the police, so I covered the arrest, but was surprised when a police officer confronted me after he had spoken to the arrested suspect, whom I believe masterminded my arrest. I was brutally arrested by five police officers, my video camera confiscated and confined in a police cell with a man who maimed his brother to death a day ago. I introduced myself as a journalist but the officer said he did not care if I was a journalist.” He told HRNJ-Uganda at Kasangaati police station.

Court presided over by Magistrate Okoth Loo granted Bwanika a cash bail of UGSHS100,000/= (USD40), which he in turn failed to pay because it was too late to pay in the bank which had since closed. The HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala and journalists Bambalazaabwe and Mutebi Sulaiman stood surety for Bwanika at a noncash bond of UGSHs1,000,000/= (USD250) each.

“HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by this irregular act of the police at Kasangaati police station for charging the journalist with this tramped up charge, and also delayed to present him to court until it was too late for him to pay for his cash bail. The police should desist from being influenced to arrest and charge journalists under such circumstances. HRNJ-Uganda calls on the police to protect journalists and ensure their safety in the course of work,” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

 

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About Human Rights Network For Journalists-Uganda

HRNJ-Uganda was established in 2005 by a group of human rights-minded journalists who developed a sense of activism amidst a deteriorating context due to glaring abuses targeting the media. The network gained formal registration as an independent non-profit and non-partisan media organisation in 2006. The identity of HRNJ-Uganda lies with its diverse membership across the board including the print and electronic media, freelance investigative journalists and individuals from other professions.
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