The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA) have officially lodged a complaint to President Yoweri Museveni on the arrest and detention for now more than two weeks, of the directors and news editors of the Red Pepper Publication.
The Red Pepper bosses, who are standing trial for among others “disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Museveni” are James Mujuni, Richard Tusiime, Johnson Musinguzi, Patrick Mugumya, Arinatiwe Rugyendo Richard Kintu, Ben Byarabaha and Francis Tumusiime.
The accused, now on remand at Luzira Prisons have on two occasions been denied bail at the request of the State Prosecution.
Their charges stem from a story they published on November 20th suggesting that President Yoweri Museveni was plotting to overthrow the regime of his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.
President of WANIFRA Michael Golden, along with David Callaway, the President of the World Editors Forum penned a letter to President Museveni complaining among others on the manner in which the red pepper bosses were arrested, the places they were detained and the entire manner in which the case has been handled.
In the letter, Golden and Callaway raised concerns that the suspects were detained at Nalufenya Police detention centre, a place normally reserved for individuals suspected of capital offenses such as terrorism and treason.
This, they said, would appear to serve no other purpose than to intimidate the Red Pepper staff.
Such actions risk unleashing a chilling effect throughout the media profession in Uganda,” they warned.
These went on to remind the president of how other news editors of Daily Monitor and the New Vision were recently summoned to the Police’s CIID over stories they run.
“Such actions will likely lead to the self-censorship and an understandable reluctance to pursue future stories for fear of recrimination or legal harassment.”
The officials called on President Museveni though his office to “cease such methods of intimidation, to reprimand the tactics of intimidation deployed by the police and to do everything in your power to show civic leadership in calling for greater respect for the profession of journalism.
WANIFRA is an association of over 18000 publications, 15000 online sites and over 3000 companies in more than 120 countries.