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Journalist harassed over political talk show

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - 26 September 2011 - Radio Kitara talk show host Samuel Kajumba is being harassed by security officials in Masindi District over a talk show which they claim "incited sectors of the public."

Kajumba, a.k.a "Lucky Sam", hosts a Sunday political talk show called "Kikukwasireho", meaning "What Concerns You" in English, which airs from mid-day to 3 p.m. The show covers politics-related issues with a local perspective.

The Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learned that, on 18 September 2011, Kajumba hosted a show that discussed the manner in which the army arbitrarily arrested Roger Musinguzi, the proprietor of a bar in Masindi town. Musinguzi was allegedly accused of deserting the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF).

Since then Kajumba has been subjected to intimidation tactics and has received orders from the district security committee to issue an apology. Kajumba told HRNJ-Uganda that during the show he and callers to the show condemned the brutal arrest of Musinguzi, and that he had wondered why several other army deserters, including those who are in Rwanda, were not being arrested in the same way as Musinguzi. He added that he was summoned by the Masindi District Security Committee, headed by Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Rtd. David Matovu, on 21 September to explain the statements he made during the show.

RDC Matovu accused Kajumba of misleading the public and causing unnecessary confusion to discredit the otherwise good image of the security forces. "I was intimidated, particularly by Masindi Resident District Commissioner Rtd. Maj. Matovu, who threatened to have me taken to military court. He ordered me to apologize to him both in writing and verbally," said Kajumba. Kajumba noted that due to fear of being arrested and taken to military court, he is considering apologizing.

Kajumba is the second journalist to be harassed by Matovu. Previously, Red Pepper reporter Tony Kizito was arbitrarily arrested and detained at the Mukono police station, before RDC Matovu was transferred to Masindi district.

When HRNJ-Uganda contacted the director of Kitara FM, Abdu Alifaijo Kiirya, he declined to comment on the treatment of the presenter.

"It's a shame that such a high ranking public officer can turn his office into a judicial body to intimidate a journalist. . . The RDC should not be the complainant and the judge," said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala. He added that if RDC Matovu was offended by the talk show, he should have used lawful means to lodge a complaint against the journalist.

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