This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 12 November 2016.
On 11 November 2016, a Magistrate's Court at Masaka convicted a prominent businessman and ruling party politician from Lwengo district, Eddie Ssansa Luwaga for assaulting a Daily Monitor journalist Shamim Jjingo Nakawooya and maliciously damaging her work tools.
A Grade I Magistrate, Aisha Nabukeera delivered the judgment to a fully packed courtroom, mostly by journalists. Nabukeera sentenced Ssansa to a suspended custodial sentence of twelve months, with a UGX 500,000 (USD 150) fine and UGX2,000,000 (USD 600) compensation to Shamim arising from the two counts.
A suspended custodial sentence is one which is slapped to the convict but only served upon committing a similar offence. At this time, the convict is directly jailed to serve the said sentence without first going through another round of trial.
This victory means a lot in our bid to pursue justice for victim journalists. There are so many other similar cases...which we are hopeful will be won in the same way. Impunity must be fought at all times.
HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala
“I have noticed with great concern that there are rampant attacks on journalists going on in this country, yet these are poor men and women who are just doing their job. So when they report and prove their cases, courts should protect them by punishing the offenders irrespective of their status, colour, sex, race, religion or tribe…” Nabukeera said in her judgment.
Prosecution led by Maureen Tusiime adduced evidence that on 28 October 2015, at the Masaka Regional Police headquarters, at Baroda Building at Masaka, Ssansa slapped Shamim, smashed her Samsung cell phone, and fondled her breasts, accusing her of provoking him during an interview.
Speaking after receiving the judgment, Shamim told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that she was happy that justice had been delivered to her. “This should serve as a lesson to all those that have continued to take the law in their hands. I am happy with the judgment”
The HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala told journalists at the Masaka court that he was happy with the judgment. “This victory means a lot in our bid to pursue justice for victim journalists. There are so many other similar cases at police and in court which we are hopeful will be won in the same way. Impunity must be fought at all times. Journalists must be protected to do their work. This conviction is timely,” Ssempala said.