Unwanted Witness Uganda is calling to an end Police’s harassment and persecution of Independent online journalists in the country, which act is meant to scare online publishers from reporting on sensitive subjects.
Last week police’s criminal Investigations Department (CID) summoned editors from five (5) online publications on allegations publishing photographs of buildings and bank accounts belonging to Bank of Uganda deputy governor. Police has intimated how it plans to charge the quintet under the Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act- a law now under challenge at the Constitutional Court.
Unwanted Witness is further concerned by the confiscation of the journalists’ electronic devices including mobile phones potentially risking the safety of journalists’ sources and whistle-blowers.
“The media depends on information from sources for information gathering and reporting, and it is crucial that sources remain unidentified by the authorities and the public because their disclosure might have repercussions for them,” said Dorothy Mukasa, the Chief Executive Officer, the Unwanted Witness Uganda.
Police ought to know the spirit under which Whistle-blowers Protection Act, 2010 and international law. The Act was put in place to protect whistle-blowers and sources who can quietly disclose information on corrupt or improper conduct both in the public and private sectors.
In 2003, the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Corruption. This convention was subsequently signed by 140 nations and formally ratified, accepted, approved, or acceded by 137 nations, including the Uganda. Article 32 and Article 33 of the UN Convention endorse protection for whistle-blowers.
The Editors who are either wanted or have appeared before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) are; Raymond Wamala (Spy Reports), Bob Atwine and Andrew Irumba (both belong to Spy Uganda), Richard Wanambwa (Eagle Online) and John Njoroge (former Editor CEO Magazine).
Unwanted Witness calls upon the authorities; to unconditionally drop the factious charges against all online editors, stop the jeopardising journalists’ sources through unnecessary confiscation of their electronic mobile devices.