Kampala, 19th/June/2012; A journalist has sued the Kampala Metropolitan Traffic Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Lawrence Niwabiine for allegedly assaulting him while he covered a news story in Kampala three months ago. Niwabiine was jointly accused with the Attorney General as the government Chief Legal Advisor.Siraje Lubwama, a journalist with the privately owned Observer Newspaper, sued Niwabiine before the High Court in Kampala seeking compensation for damages and inconvenience over the alleged assault on March 28th, 2012.
In his complaint, Lubwama claims to have lost his belongings; a mobile phone handset and Shs150,000/= for which he holds Niwabiine personally liable.He also wants court to declare Niwabiine unfit to hold public office because of his conduct on the fateful day.In addition, he wants court to declare that his arrest was unlawful and infringed on his duty as a journalist who was performing his duties.
Three journalists including; Bukedde Newspaper’ Joseph Mutebi, Hasifah Wanyana a court reporter for Kingdom FM and Lubwama were assaulted on March 28th, 2012 near Buganda Road Court in Kampala as they covered along with other journalists the release on bail of the opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye and other opposition politicians accused of murdering an Assistant Inspector of Police John Bosco Ariong. Two of the victims Lubwama and Mutebi accused Niwabiine of leading the attack on them. Mutebi’s case was since resolved amicably.
Lubwama alleges that he was lifted up in the air by Niwabiine’s junior police officers before being dumped inside the Central Police Station (CPS), and only released after fellow journalists and opposition politicians intervened by storming the station. Court has not yet summoned Niwabiine and the Attorney General to file in their defence in relation to the accusation before a hearing date can be fixed.
“This is yet another positive development in holding individual officers accountable for their deeds. A case against such a high-ranking police officer would help tame other junior police officers who have severally descended on to journalists and assaulted them with unabated impunity. We want to encourage as many journalists who are victims of police attacks to come up and seek for justice in the courts of law. HRNJ-Uganda appeals to court to expeditiously handle the matter.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.