Sign up for weekly updates

CBS journalist charged with criminal defamation

UPDATE: Trial of CBS journalist flops due to power failure in Kalangala (HRNJ-Uganda, 23 April 2012)

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kalangala, 21 March 2012 - A court in Kalangala has charged Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) journalist Ronald Ssembuusi with criminal defamation. The criminal defamation law is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court of Uganda.

Daniel Kikoola, the former Kalangala district chairperson, dragged Ssembuusi, a correspondent for the Buganda Kingdom's private radio for Kalangala district in the Central Uganda region, to court, accusing him of defamation when he reported a story which aired on CBS radio on 17 November 2011 about Kikoola being under investigation for his alleged involvement in the disappearance of solar panels.

Ssembuusi denied the charges and was released on Shillings 1 million non-cash bail. Two journalists, Sadab Kittata Kkaaya of WBS TV (also Secretary General of the South Buganda Journalists Association (SOBUJA), and Binde Edward of Uganda Radio Network (URN) in Masaka, stood sureties for him. He was represented by HRNJ-Uganda lawyer Catherine Anite, while Arthur Masaba appeared for the prosecution.

Over 80 solar panels were donated by the African Development Bank through the ministry of water and environment in 2010 to help circulate clean and safe water in Kalangala Town Council, but about 40 of the panels went missing. Since November 2011, police have recovered about 21 panels.

The law on criminal defamation is being challenged by journalists Joachim Buwembo, Emmanuel Davies Gyezaho, Bernard Tabaire and Robert Mukasa. It is pending a court's decision because there is no requisite quorum for the court to sit.

The matter before Grade One Magistrate Gimungu Kenneth Kabiri was adjourned to 19 April 2012 to allow the prosecution to prepare for commencement of the hearing.

“HRNJ-Uganda is dismayed by the fact that the court ignores the current state of the law at hand and instead goes ahead to use it to charge people. This would in turn lead to non-expeditious trial of the case, and later alone deny the accused justice given the manner in which he is being tried. So we implore the court to stay the trial till the Supreme Court decides on the matter,” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.

What other IFEX members are saying

Latest Tweet:

Indonesia: @AJIIndonesia documented 64 cases of violence directed against journalists in 2018…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.