Saturday December 5 2009

Journalists sue broadcasting council, govt

By Anthony Wesaka


Two radio talk show hosts and moderators have dragged the chairman of broadcasting council and the Attorney General to court for having suspended them from broadcasting.
Radio one’s Robert Kalundi Serumaga and Radio Sapientia’s Geoffrey Ssebagala are seeking a court order to dismiss the decision by the broadcasting council for having suspended them from hosting and moderating their respective talk shows as being contrary to the law and being issued without authority.

In their petition filed at Kampala High Court, Mr Serumaga argues that he is professional journalist.

The petition
“I participated in a live talk show on WBS Television on the night of Friday, September 11, hosted by Peter Kibazo where we discussed the cause of conflict between the Kingdom of Buganda the central government,” read part of the petition.

He further says he expressed the view during the show that President Museveni was causing conflicts between people who had hitherto co-existed peacefully, so that he can distract them from the illegalities attendant to the exploration of oil taking place in western Uganda and associate land grabbing.

“Those were my opinions and I stand by them even now,” read part of the petition.

He says he was pounced upon by several men after the show who beat him and bundled him into a car then carried a safe house in Kireka, Kampala manned by Rapid Response Unit.

Wants damages
In his petition, he also states that during his detention and torture, he suffered at the hands of the agents of the attorney general is a breach of his constitutional guarantee to liberty, freedom from torture and freedom of conscience for which he seeks redress by way of damages.

Mr Ssebagala, in the same petition says he is seeking court’s redress to compensate him for having acted unconstitutionally leading to interference in his contract of service that led to the loss of his job.

Mr Ssebagala was suspended in May 2008 after hosting Ms Mary Bwogi, who accused Ms Amelia Kyambadde of embezzling money meant to be used in the 2006 general elections.

The two journalists contend that the acts of the broadcasting council that led to their suspension has a chilling effect on the freedom of expression of journalist working in the broadcasting media and it also breaches the right to receive and impart information.