In their petition before the High Court Civil Division, the journalists note the respondents through their agents blocked them from covering Kyagulanyi who was delivering his petition on Human rights violation to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on February 17, 2021.
Four journalists have sued Lt. Col Napoleon Namanya, the
Director of operations in the Military Police and the Attorney General for
their recent attack while covering the former National Unity Platform-NUP
Presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. They are John Cliff Wamala
and Geoffrey Twesigye, both from NTV, Josephine Namakumbi from NBS TV and
Shamim Nabakooza from Record TV.
In their petition before the High Court Civil Division, the
journalists note the respondents through their agents blocked them from
covering Kyagulanyi who was delivering his petition on Human rights violation
to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on February
They argue that the conduct of the respondents prevented
them from executing their work as expected. They want the court to hold the respondents
held liable for human rights violations and misconduct of their juniors or
subordinates. In their evidence, the applicants
implicate Lt. Col Namanya for commanding what they describe as a violent gang
to assault them in the course of their duties.
In their affidavits, the applicants not that they are
entitled to media freedom, freedom of expression, human dignity, and other
fundamental human rights and freedoms enjoyed by persons in Uganda. In
his affidavit, John Cliff Wamala, says that he woke up motivated and spirited
to carry on his work and set out like he always does for any other day
conscious of the obligations he dearly holds close to his heart as a member of
the fourth estate, whose duty he believes is meant to benefit the general
He explains that upon arrival at Kololo where Kyagulanyi was
supposed to deliver his petition, some people on his team were granted access
as the soldiers reportedly directed journalists to converge in a place they
referred to as a safe zone.
"In the nick of time, a military pickup truck with men
in security uniforms wielding guns, sticks, and batons emerged from the back of
the so-called safe zone line. They dramatically hopped off the trucks and came
surging towards us (Journalists). Sensing danger, I and other Journalists
including the applicants reacted aptly and ran in the opposite direction,” says
He explains that despite this, the officers pursued them and beat them with
sticks leaving nursing injuries and pain. Wamala, who sustained injuries on the
head, appeared at court with stitches. Wamala says that they want the court to
declare that the actions of the military officers to beat and disperse them in
the course of their duties contravened their media freedom and freedom of
expression and other rights enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.
//Cue in: “He is the…
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Luganda Audio by Wamala
//Cue in: “Nsubira nti lino…
Cue out: …ngabakoze ebikolobelo”. //
Through their lawyers led by Eron Kiiza, the journalists also
want the government and Lt. Col Namanya to compensate them for the general and
exemplary damages as well as costs of the suit. This is the third civil suit
being lodged before the High Court in relation to the same matter.
Human rights lawyer, Steven
Kalali filed the first case against the government on behalf of the victims. The
second was filed by the Uganda Journalists Association against the government
and seven soldiers who are said to have assaulted the journalists. The court is yet
to fix the cases for hearing.
The Chief of the Defense Forces General David Muhoozi has
since apologized to the media and the public for the actions of his troops. The
army released a statement recently indicating that the seven of the soldiers were
sentenced to jail for a period ranging from 62 days to 90 days after being
found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the image of the force.