Media protest ban on bombs coverage

SMILING THEIR WAY TO THE CELL: Two of the bombing suspects, Hussein Hassan Agad alias Hussein Dafal (in black) and co-accused Ismail Abubakari alias Muzungu Jamil at court on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI

Media executives yesterday vowed to challenge an order issued by the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court barring print and broadcast media houses from reporting or publishing any information about the July 11 twin bombings in Kampala.

Others said they would not respect the injunction altogether.
The injunction was issued on Monday by Nakawa Chief Magistrate, Deo Sejjimba, in the presence of Principal State Attorney Charles Richard Kaamuli after Mr Sejjimba had heard submissions supported by affidavits.

“It is hereby ordered that an injunction doth issue against all print and (broadcast) media houses operating in Uganda restraining them from publishing information and/or police investigations relating to July 11th terrorism case pending before this court,” said the injunction.

The Monitor Publications Ltd legal team said the paper would respect the injunction “whether it is erroneous or not.”

However, by the time we went to press, Monitor lawyer James Nangwala had submitted a request to Nakawa Magistrates’ Court for the application submitted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to assess under which law it was submitted.

Mr Nangwala intends to challenge the injunction. But the paper’s Managing Editor for Daily Editions, Mr Daniel Kalinaki, said, “As a responsible media house, we have no wish to publish information that might jeopardise ongoing investigations.

But at the same time, we have an obligation to the truth and to the public and we feel that such a blanket order hinders our ability to inform the public and could easily contravene constitutional provisions on freedom of expression and the media.”

The government-owned Vision Group dismissed the injunction, saying they would not respect it. In a telephone interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Chief Executive Officer Robert Kabushenga, said, “It is a useless injunction because who does it affect? Do you see any media houses listed there?

“The injunction is of no legal consequence because there is no clear party affected. You can’t have an injunction against the whole world. We were not party to the application so it does not affect us,” he added.
However, the Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, Mr Francis Babu, preached caution.

He said although the broadcasters’ body would meet “soon” to discuss the injunction, they should “look at it very critically to see what the problem is.”

“Terrorism is such a dangerous thing that if these people think that you are giving information to the terrorists, they can tell us to be careful so we are going to study their position very carefully and see what the problems is,” he said.

The injunction against media houses is the second action the government has taken against the media since the July 11 twin bombings at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala and Kyadondo Rugby Club in Lugogo, which killed at least 76 people watching the 2010 World Cup final and injured scores of others.

On August 3, police arrested and interrogated journalist Timothy Kalyegira over reports that questioned whether it was the Somali-based militant group, al Shabaab, that bombed the two entertainment spots.

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