HURINET tasks government to investigate death of Rwandan journalist

Tuesday December 6 2011

By ANTHONY WESAKA & STEVEN COLLINS

Human Rights Activists on Tuesday asked government to expeditiously investigate and prosecute the suspects behind the death of a Rwandan journalist.

Mr Charles Ingabire, who was the editor of a Rwanda's online newswire -Inyenyeri, was shot dead on Wednesday last week at Makies 2 Bar in Bukesa –Kikoni, a Kampala suburb.

According to police, two suspects, a guard and a waiter from the bar, have been arrested.

Human Rights Network (HURINET) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mohammed Ndifuna said: “Government failed to protect the life of Ingabire but it should now quickly investigate and bring the culprits to book.”

Mr Ndifuna told journalists in Kampala at the start of the week long activities to mark the International Human Rights Day slated for December 10.

HURINET, in conjunction with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Uganda, received numerous questions from journalists regarding their safety on their job.

The Acting chairperson of the UHRC, Commissioner Joseph Etima, advised journalists to always take security precautions while in the field because they are always alone there.

“You must take courage and take precaution. Your profession is not a joke as a pen is mightier than a sword,” Mr Etima said.

Mr Ndifuna asked government to desist passing portions of the Public Management Order Bill that would restrict its citizens’ Constitutional right to freely discuss contentious issues through the social media.
This is one of the bills before Parliament that the human rights defenders are keenly following. Another is the NGO Act, which could make it more difficult for organizations to communicate with people in rural areas.

“People should have more rights, not less. We need to fight against the trend that rights are getting fewer and restrictions are getting greater,” said Birgit Gerstenberg, a representative of the OHCHR.

Asked whether Uganda’s human rights record was any better since last year, panelists offered a mixed reaction.

Mr Ndifuna described the government’s recent track record as “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“What is clear is the fluidity of the situation,” said Mr Ndifuna adding; “You take three steps forward and are celebrating and then you take one step backward.”

The focus of this year’s Human Rights day is about human rights defenders and the use of the social media to promote human rights.

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