Journalists Jailed in Uganda

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December 18, 1998


His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Office of the President
State House
Kampala, Uganda


Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes to strongly protest the December 17, 1998, arrest of George Lugalambi, editor of the thrice-weekly independent newspaper The Crusader, and the charge of "promoting sectarianism" lodged against him in the Magistrate Court today. CPJ further protests the December 17, 1998, detention of Crusader reporter Meddie Musisi, the search by police of The Crusader's editorial offices, and the subsequent seizure of the newspaper's documents.

Police officers arrested Lugalambi and transported him to the Kampala Central Police Station, where he was detained overnight. Officers also detained Musisi and released the journalist after interrogating him. In addition, police, who stated that they were looking for seditious documents," searched The Crusader editorial offices and seized the newspapers documents.

On December 18, 1998, Lugalambi was charged before Presiding Magistrate Jane Alividza in the Kampala Magistrate Court with "promoting sectarianism contrary to section 42a(i)(d) of the Penal Code Act as amended by Statute 9 of 1988." Your Excellency's media advisor, John Nagenda, was the complainant. The charges, which are in connection with an article published in the October 19, 1998, edition of The Crusader titled "Karuhanga's Excuse for Arming Bahima is Nonsense," specify that Lugalambi published the article with the intent to promote ill-will or hostility among the people of Nyabushozi (Mbarara District), on the basis of ethnicity. Lugalambi was released on bail of 300,000 Uganda shillings (US$ 300) in cash, on the condition that he report every two weeks to the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters. The hearing for Lugalambi's case is set for January 15, 1998.

CPJ believes Lugalambi's arrest is a warning from the government to Uganda's journalists, that those who report on issues such as official corruption, ethnic tension, and human rights will face reprisals from the authorities. CPJ points out that Lugalambi's arrest follows the October 29, 1998, assault of Ogen Kevin Aliro, chief sub-editor of the Kampala independent daily newspaper The Monitor, following the journalist's report that members of the Internal Security Organization and the Department of Military Intelligence have committed torture. CPJ called for an impartial official investigation in a letter to Your Excellency, and we take this opportunity to reiterate that request.

As a nonpartisan organization of organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ strongly protests the arrest of and charges filed against Lugalambi, the detention of Musisi, and the search of The Crusader's editorial offices. These actions violate journalists' rights to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 9 of the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, all to which we respectfully remind Your Excellency, Uganda is a signatory.

CPJ strongly urges Your Excellency to see to it that the charge against Lugalambi is immediately and unconditionally dropped. We also urge you to ensure the right of Uganda's journalists to report the news freely and without reprisal.

Thank you for your attention. We welcome your comments.


Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director



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His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Office of the President
State House
Kampala, Uganda
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