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HRNJ Activists Vow to Pursue Petition Despite Death of Key Witness

He was subsequently convicted by Samuel Twakyire, the Kalangala Grade One Magistrate and sentenced to a fine of Ugx 1 Million.
Catherine Anite HRNJ lawyer who petitioned EACJ to challenge Criminal Defamation chats with journalists
The Human Rights Network for Journalists has vowed to pursue their petition against criminal defamation to the East African Court despite death of Ronald Ssembusi, a key witness.  Last year, Human Rights Network for journalists-Uganda filed a petition before the East African Court of Justice to scrap the criminal defamation case against journalists.

 

It all started after the late Ronald Ssembusi, a reporter with Central Broadcasting Services-CBS was prosecuted and convicted for criminal defamation under section 179 and 180 of the penal code act. The late Ssembusi was found guilty of defaming Daniel Kikoola, the former Kalangala LC5 Chairperson.

It came after Ssembusi filed a story, which was aired on CBS on November 17th 2011 implicating Kikoola in the theft of more than 80 solar panels for the Kalangala Town council water plant.  Kikoola filed a case of criminal defamation against Ssembusi.

He was subsequently convicted by Samuel Twakyire, the Kalangala Grade One Magistrate and sentenced to a fine of Ugx 1 Million. As a result, HRNJ filed a petition before the East African Court of Justice in Arusha challenging the enforcement of criminal defamation.

However, Ssembusi, a key witness in the case died on January 2nd and was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Lwanume village in Kyamuliibwa Sub County, Kalungu district.  Through its lawyers Nicholas Opio and Catherine Anite, HRNJ says they will pursue the matter despite the death of Ssembusi. 

Anite argues that although the late Ssembusi was a key witness, his death will not stop them from challenging criminal defamation. She says they want the East African Court of Justice to scrap it off and stop its enforcement to save hundreds of Ugandan Journalists at risk of prosecution.

According to Anite, they will replace the affidavit Ssembusi swore in support of the petition. Robert Ssempala, the coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists says criminal defamation places unjustifiable restriction on freedom of expression and access to information in Uganda