Uganda police raid newspaper, arrest editor

Police on Tuesday raided Ggwanga, a vernacular bi-weekly newspaper, confiscating their equipment and arresting four workers, including its managing editor, on allegations of criminal libel.

Police arrested Mr Kizito Sserumaga, the managing editor, Mr Alex Lubwama, the editor, Ms Patricia Sserebe, the administrator and Mr Patrick Lukyamuzi, the security officer. The four were taken to Old Kampala Police Station to record statements and had not been released by press time.

Mr Bakaleke said they raided the newspaper premises in Wakaliga, Rubaga Division, after receiving reports that the offices were a distribution centre for leaflets and flyers inciting violence.

“We have searched the offices and found leaflets and flyers attacking the government. Others were telling people to buy food in plenty and keep it at home because there was going to be chaos in the country,” Mr Bakaleke said yesterday.

He said they are holding the suspects on criminal libel charges. Criminal libel is defamation in written form.Ggwanga was established by Buganda loyalists after the closure of Central Broadcasting Service radio station after the September, 2009 riots, which erupted after government blocked the Kabaka’s trip to Kayunga District. The paper has been critical of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.

Mr Sserumaga, also the director of the newspaper, described the raid as an attack on media freedoms and harassment of journalists who are critical of the government.

“They (officers) said they found documents of Action for Change (A4C). But we don’t have such documents they are talking about in our offices,” Mr Sserumaga said.

Mr Daudi Balamaze, the paper’s political editor, said they suspect that the documents police claim to have found in their offices may have been brought by the law enforcers themselves. “When they were searching, they didn’t allow us to move with them. Surprisingly, they came out with some documents and wanted us to sign that were got with us, which we refused,” he said.

Ggwanga joins several newspapers, including Daily Monitor, which have been raided and closed by the police in the past.


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