THE Buganda Kingdom has rejected a raft of conditions the government wants CBS Radio to comply with before it could be reopened, saying it will not apologize, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
President Museveni closed down the station, owned by Buganda Kingdom, last September accusing it of violating broadcasting regulations during riots that followed a government travel ban on the King of Buganda.
Museveni wants the owners of CBS to apologize for the riots, withdraw a case they have filed in court and move the radio from the kingdom headquarters to Kampala, among other conditions.
In an article published in The Monitor newspaper on February 2, the kingdom's Attorney General Appollo Makubuya, said it was puzzling and disturbing to many that President Museveni and the Cabinet were at the forefront of the CBS closure/negotiations and not the Statutory Broadcasting Council.
"Why is CBS requested to apologise even when it has not been accorded a full public hearing? Why are the Generals not so keen on the trial of the trigger-happy security personnel that killed 27 Ugandans during the riots?" Makubuya asked. "There is no doubt that, where fault is established in a due process, contrition is a honorable and proper thing."
"However, in the case of CBS, several of whose personnel await trial and whose case(s) against the government are pending, the demand for an immediate apology must be seen both as premature and ironical."
Makubuya said it was the government that owes the country apologies for the breach of the Constitution, the wanton loss of innocent lives during the protests, the wrongful arrest and detention of many innocent individuals and denying them a right to bail, the illegal closure of CBS and other radio stations and the clamp down of critical voices in the media and elsewhere.
The Attorney General further said it was intriguing that instead of arresting and trying the culprits, if they existed, the government simply ordered that CBS's proprietors acknowledge in writing "admitting errors and committing themselves to change" and the current management "must be replaced."
"I am convinced that one day, when an independent and impartial inquiry is made, CBS will be exonerated and some people will be required to apologise for undermining the Constitution and the rule of law; fanning ethnicism and tribal conflict; refusing the Kabaka to visit Buruli and Bugerere in Buganda; the killing of innocent people; the unlawful closure of CBS radio station and for many other transgressions on the people and the Kingdom of Buganda, amongst others."
Meanwhile, the trial of Umuseso newspaper Managing Editor, Didace Gasana, and his co-accused Richard Kayigamba and Charles Kabonero started at Nyarugenge Court of First Instance on January 27.
The trio is accused of defamation and invasion of privacy of the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Protais Musoni.
The prosecution requested Fidele Bazihana, the president of the Nyarugenge Court, to punish the journalists for defaming and meddling in a public figure's private life.
"The journalists should be disciplined with a one year jail sentence and five million Rwandan Francs each. They should be locked up immediately the verdict is out to prevent their escape."
Pointing out that it had provided evidence implicating Gasana, Kayigamba and Kabonero, the prosecution also requested for a ban on the publication, citing Article 80 of the Media Law.
The Article says: "Without prejudice to the provisions of penal laws, any person interfering with ones privacy using the press shall be liable to a fine ranging from one million francs to five million francs. However, where a journalist publishes facts on authority's privacy that has an impact on the country's public life, he or she shall not be punished."
The prosecution cited other cases in which Umuseso has faced defamation trials including one that involved the Vice Speaker of Parliament, Denis Polisi and the city tycoon, Tribert Rujugiro.
Umuseso lost the Polisi case and intends to appeal the ruling in Rujugiros case which it also lost. Rujugiro had requested $ 120,000 in damages.
But Gasana requested the court to postpone the case, saying the three journalists had not had enough time to find a lawyer.
The Court President rejected the request and insisted that the accused had been given enough time to find a lawyer and were coming up with excuses to delay the case.
Gasana told the court the defendantsÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â would no longer be part of the trial due to lack of legal counsel.
When contacted forÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â comment, Gasana said: "We are waiting for the results, but of course, injustice has already been done.
Its our constitutional right to have a lawyer. How could court deny us that right?"