Journalists subscribing to the Uganda Online Media
Publishers Association (OMPA), have issued an
ultimatum for the Uganda police force to arraign 5
Red pepper directors and 3 Editors in court by end of
today, or face a blackout.
In a statement written by the association’s chairperson Giles
Muhame, the media practitioners note with concern the recent raid by the Uganda Police of the premises of The Pepper Publications Limited.
They claim that arrest of 5 directors and 3 senior editors led to the subsequent shunt down and or prevention of publication of The Red Pepper News paper, Kamunye News Paper, Entatsi Weekly News Paper, and Red Pepper–Online.
“While OMPA respects the mandate of the Uganda Police to keep law and order, we are equally concerned and deeply troubled that the 8 directors are now being detained beyond the constitutional 48 hours.”
“We are also concerned by the confiscation of all their tools of trade, the destruction of their servers as well as the shut-down and disruption of the business-especially at a time when the economy is difficult and unemployment levels are on the rise.”
“We are also concerned that the suspects are being held at the notorious Nalufenya Detention centre a facility that is 70 kilometers away from their families and loved ones and has most recently been flagged as a torture center for suspects.
We are very concerned about the unprecedented treason charges preferred against them; treason is a capital offence punishable by death. We believe these frivolous charges, at a time when state prosecutors attached to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are on strike and the consequent indefinite suspension of all Criminal sessions by the Judiciary are designed to detain the journalists for longer than necessary.”
Muhame adds that the group protests strongly, the continued inhuman and degrading treatment such as arbitrary deprivation of property and unlawful arrests that sometimes include instances of charges under laws that courts have declared to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
He now says they want the directors and Editors brought to
competent courts of law and charged accordingly, be granted immediate access to their families and loved ones; the siege on The Red Pepper premises be lifted and the business be allowed to resume; that police ceases the persistent mistreatment of journalists all over the country, and that those who violate rights of journalists be brought to book;
They also want all officers implicated in previous cases of
torturing journalists be appropriately punished.
“Should our colleagues not be brought to court today, OMPA will declare a ban on coverage of all police activities and events for a period of 2 months” the statement reads.