Four Uganda journalists charged with sectarianism

Kampala, 05th March 2021: Four local comedians known as Bizonto have been arraigned before Buganda Road Court and charged with one count of promoting sectarianism.
The four were arrested and detained incommunicado for over a week until HRNJ-Uganda secured a court order to release them unconditionally or be taken to court. 
The group of four, all of whom working for a local station, Radio Simba as presenters, including Julius Sserwanja, Maliseeri Mbabali, Gold Ki Marino, and Peter Ssabakazi appeared before Grade One Magistrate Asuna Muhumuza and denied the alleged offence.
Through their team of four lawyers led by Derrick Lutalo, the journalists applied to be freed on bail pending disposal of the charge against them.
In their bail application, they pleaded constitutional rights to apply for bail and being responsible citizens with family and children to look after.
The lawyers presented several sureties including Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) who they asked the court to find substantial.
In response, the prosecution led by Patricia Chingtho opposed the bail application saying the sureties presented didn’t have their respective local council letters confirming their places of residence.
The Magistrate however overruled her saying the national identity cards produced by each of the sureties was more credible and compiling the document.
He accordingly granted them bail of 100,000 shillings cash and their sureties were bonded 500,000 shillings not cash.
The suspects were ordered to reappear in court on 8th April 2021 for mention as inquiries progress.
Documents before Court show that the accused persons and others still at large, during the month of June 2020 within the district of Kampala made and published on different social media platforms videos containing information which is likely to discontent citizens of Uganda against the Banyankole tribe by indicating that most of the leaders in Uganda are of Banyankole tribe from the western region of the county.
“We are happy that the four were all released on bail. This will allow them to continue with their media work. We trust that the court will expeditiously handle this matter which had come at such a critical voice.

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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