The Human Rights Network of Journalists (HRNJ – Uganda) has condemned the detention in Nalufenya detention centre and subsequent denial of bail by court to the eight accused Red Pepper journalists.
On Monday November 27, Five Directors and Three Editors of the Red Pepper Publications were arraigned before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate James Eremye Mawanda and charged with libel, offensive communication and publication of information prejudicial to security.
The charges however came after the seven spent a week at Nalufenya, an ‘illegal’ detention centre located in Jinja and operated by the Police. The charges stem from the Publication of a story on November 20, titled: “M7 Plots to Overthrow Kagame.”
A special prosecutor/Attorney Abdulsalam Waiswa alleged that seven defamed President Museveni, his brother Gen. Salim Saleh and Security Minister Brig. Henry Tumukunde.
HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala said the denial of bail to the accused after they spent a week in Nalufenya in itself constituted an abuse.
“We believe that the decision by court to deny the suspects bail after a week-long detention at Nalufenya was subjecting them to further abuse. We call on the State to let work resume at the Red Pepper as the court case is going on,” said Ssempala.
Ssempala’s plea came a day after the seven media managers were charged with seven counts to Luzira prison until December 5, 2017.
The charged Directors include, Arinaitwe Rugyendo 41, Patrick Mugumya 40, Johnson Musinguzi 44, Richard Tusiime 45, and James Mujuni 42, and editors; Ben Byarabaha 38, Richard Kintu 33 and Francis Tumusiime43.
Red Pepper premises have remained shut since Nov 21, 2017 when the army invaded the premises of the Red Pepper. Since the arrest of the bosses, the media house has ceased publication of The Red Pepper Newspaper, Kamunye Newspaper, Entasi Weekly Newspaper and Red Pepper Online.
Prosecutor Abdul Salaam Waiswa asked court to adjourn its ruling on the bail application to give the State more time to scrutinize the documents tendered by the seventeen sureties.
The suspects, through their lawyers Maxim Mutabingwa, ….Kandebe and Denis Nyombi told court that they were subjected to illegal detention at Nalufenya for a week but still did not finish with the investigations, which was a failure on the part of government, and therefore asked court to grant them bail. They also told court that their phones, laptops and all other gadgets and work tools were confiscated by government hence crippling their work and resources.