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Police storm printing press

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kampala, 25 May 2011 - The police raided and searched the premises of Prime General Supply Limited, a company which offers printing services to "Ggwanga" newspaper, just hours after the paper's offices were raided.

The Ntinda-based company also prints the "Razor" daily and "The Observer", a bi-weekly newspaper. Ntinda is a suburb of Kampala.

"Ggwanga" newspaper premises had been raided and searched by police who arrested four staff members, seized a computer and documents including materials allegedly belonging to "Activists for Change", a pressure group opposed to high fuel and commodity prices.

Two police salon cars and a patrol loaded with armed and anti riot police forced entry into the premises of Prime General Supply and searched the offices while another privately numbered vehicle was parked outside the gate. The exercise lasted for more than one and a half hours.

"The police came along with a certain document that it suspected was being printed from our place. They searched our printing press and computers but could not find any evidence," said the printing press manager, Martin Onyabuko.

"We believe that the security is now bent on harassing the media to instil fear which would in turn lead to self censorship. It begun when a Media Offences Department was established in 2008, and later decentralized from the headquarters to the local police posts. Such acts are targeting critical journalists and media houses. But we wish to encourage the media to stand firm and perform its duties - in particular, holding public officers accountable to tax payers - and also urge the police to desist from clamping down on a free media," said HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman Robert Ssempala.

Meanwhile, three "Ggwanga" newspaper employees were charged with unlawful publication and released on police bond. They include managing director Kizito Sserumaga, news editor Alex Lubwama and company administrator Patricia Serebe. The security guard, Mr. Lukyamuzi Peter, was set free.

The suspects were expected to report back to the old Kampala police station on 30 May.
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