US Condemns Detention of Red Pepper Bosses
The US has added its voice to the series of condemnations against the detention of Red Pepper Publications directors and editors.
On Monday, a court in Kampala sent eight Red Pepper directors and editors to Luzira prison over a story on Rwanda-Uganda relations.
GENESIS OF RED PEPPER WOES
According to the story published at the start of last week, Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni was plotting to overthrow Rwanda’s Kagame.
The eight appeared Monday before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court a week after their arrest and detention.
Red Pepper bosses were arrested last Tuesday and their offices put under lock and key.
The eight are:
Directors: Arinaitwe Rugyendo, James Mujuni, Johnson Byarabaha, Patrick Mugumya and Richard Tusiime;
Editors: Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime
CHARGES AGAINST RED PEPPER DIRECTORS AND EDITORS
Court has charged them with seven counts as read to them by Chief Magistrate Ereemye Mawanda:
- Disturbing the peace, quiet and right of privacy of President Museveni, Gen Henry Tumukunde and Gen Salim Saleh.
- injuring the reputation of Museveni, his broth Gen Salim Saleh and security minister Henry Tumukunde
- And subjecting them to hatred, contempt and ridicule.
PUBLICATION OF INFORMATION PREJUDICIAL TO SECURITY
- running a headline story regarding military operations, strategies and troop locations, which publication is likely to disrupt public order and security.
RED PEPPER TREASON CHARGES DROPPED
Court has however dropped treason charges against Red Pepper staff.
Last week’s Charge and Caution Statements had included treason charges.
NO BAIL FOR RED PEPPER BOSSES
Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda has remanded the eight to Luzira Prison.
The directors and editors will be jailed at Luzira until December 5, 2017.
Court denied their lawyers’ plea bail.
Max Mutabingwa and Kandeebe Ntambirwaki are representing the publication’s bosses.
ENTER US MISSION’S MALAC
US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has condemned the arrests and detention, calling on Kampala to respect media freedoms.
Recent events involving the Red Pepper are part of a disturbing deterioration of #PressFreedom in #Uganda. Uganda’s Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression. We call on the Government of Uganda to safeguard these fundamental freedoms. https://t.co/n1nnRDzqJM
— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) November 24, 2017
“Uganda’s Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” she said.
“We call on the Government of Uganda to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.”
CPJ ON RED PEPPER CASE
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also condemned the arrest and detention of Red Pepper bosses, and closure of the tabloid’s offices.
Ugandan authorities should immediately release eight employees of the national newspaper Red Pepper who are being held in government detention without charge. https://t.co/gQB0CacXUx
— CPJ (@pressfreedom) November 23, 2017
“Uganda is trying to intimidate Red Pepper journalists and staff into silence with arrests and raids,” said CPJ Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal from New York.
“Reporting on politics is not a crime. Journalists in Uganda must be able to report without fear of retaliation. We call on the Ugandan authorities to immediately release the Red Pepper editors and managers.”