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Court cases against journalists arrested over Bobi Wine stall

By ANTHONY WESAKA

July. 03, 2020

By ANTHONY WESAKA
Kampala- Two journalists, who were arrested for relaying live pictures of the scene of murder of Yasin Kawuma, the driver to Kyadondo East Member of Parliament and head of People Power Movement, Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, during the Arua Municipality by-election, have not received justice two years later.
Mr Herbert Zziwa, a reporter with NTV-Uganda, and his camera man, Mr Ronald Muwanga, were arrested, assaulted before being driven to Gulu District on August 13, 2018.
Police in Gulu preferred charges of incitement to violence and malicious damage against them. However, on August 14, 2018, the duo were released on police bond and required to report back a few days later, which they did.
But Mr Zziwa recently told Daily Monitor that the police have neither officially closed their file nor taken them to court.
“That case, a lawyer from Gulu was instructed to follow it up and I don’t know its status now,” Mr Zziwa said last week.
Mr Jimmy Patrick Okema, the police spokesperson for Aswa region, referred this reporter to the journalists’ lawyer. Similarly, an international freelance journalist, Mr Moses Bwayo, and eight others,were early this year arrested while filming a music documentary of Bobi Wine in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb.
About five months later, their case has never taken off. Mr Bwayo at the time of arrest in February, was under a contract with a UK-based production company, Southern Films.
He is facing charges of holding unlawful assembly, which offences he denies. Mr Caleb Alaka, the lawyer representing Mr Bwayo, lamented how the prosecution had taken long to handle his client’s case.
“By March, they had not completed carrying out investigations. You can’t confiscate someone’s gadgets and yet you take long to hear their case. Remember, my client is an international freelance journalist, whose livelihood entirely depends on his tools of trade,” Mr Alaka said last week.
Mr Robert Sempala, the national coordinator for Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda, said the police know very well that most of the charges brought against journalists are baseless. “The police uses such flimsy charges to instil fear in journalists so that they can go into self-censorship and don’t cover critical stories concerning governance and democracy,” Mr Sempala said.
“Otherwise, majority of the cases against journalists end up gathering dust on the police shelves as there is usually no evidence to that effect,” he added.
Ms Jacquelyn Okui, the spokesperson of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, attributed the delay to hearing the matter to Covid-19 lockdown.
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