US Condemns Police Siege At Uganda Media Houses

ask geneva;”>“The United States values press freedom as a key component of democratic governance. As Under Secretary Sonenshine said in her May 3 op-ed on World Press Freedom Day, buy information pills journalists play a vital role in open and democratic societies, no rx ” the statement issued on Tuesday by the US Embassy in Kampala, reads in part.

“We understand Ugandan security authorities searched and disrupted operations at several of Uganda’s leading media houses in response to the May 7 publication of a letter containing controversial comments by a Ugandan general on presidential succession in Uganda.

These disruptions, no matter the justifications offered, nonetheless risk having a chilling effect on the freedoms of expression and speech enshrined in the Ugandan Constitution.”

Recent raids on two newspapers and two radio stations are linked to a legal dispute in which the police have sought to obtain the source for an article by the Daily Monitor about the “Muhoozi Project,” an alleged plot to usher into power the son of President Yoweri Museveni.


United States now joins other activists who slammed government for harassing independent media.

Human Rights Watch said government should immediately end politically motivated police intimidation of newspapers and radio stations and ensure that the media can operate freely.

Sources at Red Pepper say police spent the better part of Tuesday quizzing the news editor, Ben Byarabaha.

Detectives further used sophisticated software to scan through Byarabaha’s emails, targeting those related to the Tinyefuza saga.

This was perceived as a clear infringement on the editor’s privacy.

“Police should resolve legal disputes before the courts without resorting to abusive tactics to scare journalists away from politically sensitive stories,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Muzzling the media is a bad way to address Uganda’s political debates.”

On May 7, 2013, the Daily Monitor published an article detailing an alleged conspiracy to frame or eliminate high-ranking members of the government who do not support a plan for Museveni’s son Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba to take over when his father steps down.

The article was based on a leaked April 29 letter written by Uganda’s coordinator of intelligence service, Gen. David Sejjusa (also known as Tinyefuza), to the director of the Internal Security Organization calling for investigations into the plot. Sejjusa is currently outside of Uganda but has publicly confirmed that he wrote the letter.

In response to the article, the police media crimes unit questioned the article’s authors, Risdel Kasasira and Richard Wanambwa, as well as the Monitor’s managing editor, Don Wanyama.

Sejusa saga rages on

When the journalists refused to reveal the source of the letter, police sought and received a court order on May 15 ordering the Monitor to produce the original copy of the Sejjusa letter and disclose its source. In a statement on May 20, the Monitor said that it was contesting the demand by the police to disclose the source of the story and that “the matter is yet to be decided.”

Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut said Police went through the due legal process and secured a court order – which was issued by a court of competent jurisdiction (Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court).

“There is therefore nothing untoward or surprising about the procedures used, as great care has been taken to follow the law to the letter. For the time being the premises in question are being treated as crime scenes,” said Karooro.

“As soon as investigations are over – which will be very soon as police is under instructions to handle the matter expeditiously – the premises will be duly handed back to the owners.”

But Red Pepper Chief Executive Officer, Richard Tusiime says management had been informed by its friends in government that “this is not about just a Press Release which was distributed to all media in Uganda, but a long term plan orchestrated to cripple Red Pepper economically and disable its capacity to do business in Uganda anymore.”

He added: “We have been informed that the plan is to keep our offices closed for as long as they like, dismantle our new printing press, destroy our computers and servers by installing malicious malware and then hand over the junk when they are satisfied that we have been taken back to the stone age.”

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