Evidence before court shows that the army admits all the illegalities and allegations levied against it by Kalali and to prove this, they say the errant officers have since been apprehended and couldn't let such impunity go unpunished because they strongly condemn the beating of journalists.
The Uganda People's Defense Forces has
asked the High Court in Kampala to allow them settle through a reconciliation process
the case in which a city lawyer Steven Kalali sued government on behalf of journalists
who were battered a few months ago.
On February 22 2021, human rights
lawyer Kalali sued the government for the actions of a section of the UPDF
soldiers who battered journalists as they were
going to cover an activity by former National Unity Platform-Presidential Candidate Robert
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. Kyagulanyi had on
February 17th 2021 gone to deliver his petition to the United
Nations High Commission in Kololo challenging gross human rights violations in
But according to
Kalali, on the fateful day, military police officers descended on journalists
who were performing their lawful duties and started beating them
indiscriminately leaving many of them with injuries. He named Henry Ssekanjako
and Timothy Murungi from Vision group, Cliff Wamala from NTV and Josephine Namakumbi
from NBS TV as some of the journalists who were injured by the officers.
As such, Kalali noted
that previously the agents of government have violated the Constitutional articles
guaranteeing freedom of press and also infringed on the journalist’s right to
practice their profession.
Kalali thus asked
court to issue orders restraining government security agencies permanently from
acting with impunity, malice and interfering with the rights of all media houses
and journalists in the peaceful pursuit of their work as well as an order for
However today, the government which
was being represented by State Attorney Brian Musota asked to be allowed to
settle the matter out of court saying there is a reconciliation process between
the two parties. Musota made his
submission today while appearing before the Assistant Registrar of High Court
Civil Division Agnes Alum who adjourned the case to June 14th 2021 on behalf of the Trial Judge Boniface Wamala
who was away attending a workshop.
The State Attorney also shared with Kalali
the affidavit sworn by the Chief of Legal Services in UPDF, Brigadier Godard
Busingye in which the army confirms the reconciliation process including having
had a football match with journalists to mend the relations.
“That I know the UPDF on 15th April
2021 in a bid to mend its relationship with the media held its inaugural sports
competition at Phillip Omondi Stadium in Lugogo Kampala as a gesture of its
commitment to the agreed objective of improving working relationship between
the Defense Forces and the Media Fraternity, " reads the affidavit in
The affidavit also admits that their officers
went beyond their mandate and without consent from the strategic army
leadership handled some journalists in a manner that is not authorized by the
But Brigadier Godard Busingye, also a law Associate Professor at Kampala International University said the court needs to disallow Kalali's case such that the reconciliation
process that the parties have already commenced to continues.
“That I know whereas the actions of
our errant officers are regrettable, they cannot be reversed and I would pray
that in light of the commitment of the UPDF to improve, this Honorable Court
decides this case with a degree of restraint”, reads the affidavit.
Adding that “in the interest of
justice this application be disallowed to encourage the reconciliation process
that the parties have already commenced to continue.
Evidence before court shows that the
army admits all the illegalities and allegations levied against it by Kalali and
to prove this, they say the errant officers have since been apprehended and
couldn't let such impunity go unpunished because they strongly condemn the beating
"That I know the errant officers
breached the UPDF Act of 2005 and were subsequently arrested, charged convicted
and sentenced by the UPDF's unit disciplinary Committee", reads Busingye's
affidavit in part.
But the petitioner, Kalali has vowed not to go for the reconciliation process saying that such
actions have been rampant and he needs court to make a pronunciation on them.
//Cue in: “Nze ngaze nga….
Cue out: … held accountable”. //
//Cue in: “Seemingly me as…
Cue out: …. since 2016”. //
Kalali’s case was the first
to be lodged before the High Court in relation to beating of journalists in Kololo
and so far two other cases related to the matter have since been filed.
They include one
filed by the Uganda Journalists Association against the government and seven
soldiers who are said to have assaulted the journalists and another filed by
the victims of this incident.
last cases are fixed for hearing on May 17th 2021.