Kalangala, 21st/March/2012; Court in Kalangala has charged a Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) journalist Ronald Ssembuusi with criminal defamation, a law which is being challenged in the Supreme Court of Uganda.
Daniel Kikoola the former Kalangala district chairperson dragged Ssembuusi -a correspondent for the Buganda Kingdom’ 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 17th/November/2011 that Kikoola was being investigated for alleged involvement in the disappearance of solar panels.
Ronald Ssembuusi in Orange shirt accompanied with HRNJ-Uganda lawyer Catherine Anite and CBS Chief News Editor Male Busuulwa coming from Kalangala court
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 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 (forty) of them went missing. Since November 2011, police have recovered about 21 of them.
The law on criminal defamation is being challenged by journalists Joachim Buwembo, Emmanuel Davies Gyezaho, Bernard Tabaire and Robert Mukasa. It is pending 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 19th/April/2012 to allow prosecution 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 the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.