Ronald Ssembuusi, a journalist formally working with the Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio has died.
Ssembuusi, who was last October sentenced to a fine of one million shillings or a one-year’s jail term for allegedly defaming former Kalangala district chairman Daniel Kikoola, died yesterday January 2, 2015 at Masaka Referral hospital, where he had been admitted after months battling for his life.
Ssembuusi was jailed for reporting on CBS radio, on November 17, 2011 that Kikola was being investigated in connection with the disappearance of solar panels donated to Kalangala district by the African Development Bank to pump clean water in the area.
At the time of his death, Ssembusi had appealed against his criminal defamation conviction and sentence at the High Court in Masaka. Through his lawyers, Catherine Anite and Nicholas Opio, Sembuusi had also filed a Reference in the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, challenging the enforcement of criminal defamation laws, which place unjustifiable restriction on freedom of expression and access to information in Uganda.
The co-ordinator of Human Rights Network – Uganda (HRNJ) Robert Ssempala described the late Ssembuusi as a hero who stood for the truth and justice.
Ssempala said: “His death casts a very dark cloud over the journalism fraternity in Uganda, most especially within the human rights defenders spectrum in the country.
He added: “We believe that Ssembuusi stood for a very good cause, he was a very brave journalist and very passionate about his profession so much that he remained focused, ambitious and true to his work as a journalist despite his ailing health. We will forever celebrate Ssembuusi’s service to the media and keep his aspiration burning. May Ssembuusi’s soul rest eternally in peace.”
Ssembuusi’s body was set for burial on January 3, 2015, at his ancestral home at Lwanume in Kalungu district.