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Media Council Orders Red Pepper to Pay NTV's Nakazibwe UGX 45Million

The ruling stems from a complaint to the council by Nakazibwe in June 2016. In her complaint, Nakazibwe accused Richard Tusiime, the then editor of Hello Newspaper and Pepper Publications limited for publishing 38 articles between December 2015 and June 2016 that caused her torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, stress and anguish.
Red Pepper ordered to NTV's Faridah Nakazibwe UGX 45 million

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The Media Council has directed the Pepper Publication Limited, proprietor of Red Pepper and the defunct Hello to pay NTV's Faridah Nakazibwe Shilling 45 million for publishing articles that degraded her dignity.

 

The decision was reached by the Disclipnary Committee of the Council chaired by its chairperson, Paulo Okochu. The committee delivered its ruling on Monday at the Information, Communication and Technology Ministry.

 

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The ruling stems from a complaint to the council by Nakazibwe in June 2016. In her complaint, Nakazibwe accused Richard Tusiime, the then editor of Hello Newspaper and Pepper Publications limited for publishing 38 articles between December 2015 and June 2016 that caused her "torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, stress and anguish."

 

The articles largely focused on Nakazibwe's relationship with the first NRM vice chairman, Hajji Musa Kigongo. While appearing before the committee, Nakazibwe confirmed that she had a relationship with Kigongo.

Although Nakazibwe, argued that the 38 articles were false, the media council disciplinary committee, says she didn't prove the falsehood, except for two articles. The first article was published in Hello on December 23rd 2015 titled "Fiance sold Faridah to Kigongo @70m" and the second was published in the same paper on December 29th, 2015 titled "Kigongo marries Faridah sister."

 

Nakazibwe sought a number of orders, including a declaration that Red Pepper Publications Limited acted unlawfully for failure to register the particulars of Hello editor with the council, pepper publications limited Hello unlawfully published Hello, published her photos from Facebook without her consent and subjected her to inhuman and degrading treatment. 

She further sought for an order for disclosure of the name of the journalist who authored the articles and prohibition of publication of Red Pepper and Hello newspapers for 6 months, award of exemplary, punitive and general damages as well as running a front page apology for a period of 6 months. 

 

Committee observation

In its ruling, the committee observed that since the articles focused on Nakazibwe's love affair, they were an infringement on her privacy.

 

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The Committee also noted that it was derogatory to the dignity of Nakazibwe and a direct infringement on her right to privacy for the paper to Publish 38 articles littered with falsehoods about her love affair.

 

  

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The committee declared that publication of the now defunct Hello newspaper without registering its editor with the media council was illegal and unlawful. 

The committee, however, declined to issue orders directing Red Pepper to name the author of the 38 articles published without a byline. 

"In respect of prohibition of Red Pepper and Hello newspaper, the committee finds no compelling reasons to prohibit publication of Red Pepper…as regards Hello newspaper, the publication is moot as we were informed that it is no longer in publication," the ruling reads. 

Though Nakazibwe had sought for Shillings 300 million as general damages and 2 billion as exemplary damages, the committee awarded her Shillings 38 million as general damages and Shillings 15 million as exemplary damages. The Shillings 45 million will carry a 6 percent annual interest rate. 

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No case 

The pepper publications limited declined to appear before the committee, arguing that there was no case to answer. 

In a 15th August 2016 letter to the committee, the Lawyers of the Pepper publications limited argued that the company is incorporated not a journalist hence there was no case to answer.

 

They also argued that Richard Tusiime is an editor not a journalist yet the Press and Journalist Act doesn't provide for proceedings against an editor. 

 

Peter Okello, a member of the media council disciplinary committee.

 

 Luganda

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