Journalist arrested and charged with "promoting sectarianism"
(CPJ/IFEX) - On 17 December 1998, George Lugalambi, editor of the triweekly
independent newspaper "The Crusader", was arrested by police and detained
overnight at the Kampala Central Police Station. The offices of the
newspaper were also searched and documents were confiscated by officers who
stated they were searching for seditious documents. "The Crusader" reporter
Meddie Musisi was also detained and later released without charge after
On 18 December, Lugalambi was charged before Presiding Magistrate Jane
Alividza in the Kampala Magistrate Court with "promoting sectarianism
contrary to section 42 a (i) (d) of the Penal Code Act as amended by Statute
9 of 1988." The charges were in connection with an article published in the
19 November issue of "The Crusader" titled "Karuhanga's Excuse For Arming
Bahima Is Nonsense." The charges specified that Lugalambi published the
article with the intent to promote ill-will or hostility among the people of
Nyabushozi, Mbarara district, on the basis of ethnic origin. Lugalambi was
released on a cash bail of 300,000 Uganda shillings (US$ 300) on the
condition that he report to the Criminal Investigation Department
headquaters every two weeks. His passport was also confiscated by the court.
The hearing for Lugalambi's case was set for 15 January 1999.
The National Institute of Journalists of Uganda condemned the arrest in a
statement issued 18 December, and several journalists have condemned the
action saying it is intended to intimidate the press from writing critical
stories against the government of President Museveni.
National Democrats Forum chairman, Chapaa Karuhanga, was also arrested on 17
December and charged 18 December, in the same Magistrates Court as
Lugalambi, with sedition contrary to section 41 (i) (a) and 42 (i) (b) of
the Penal Code Act. The charges read against Chapaa stated that he and
others on or about 13 December, at or around Natete Sports ground at a
public rally uttered words with seditious intention. The charges quoted
Chapaa as saying that President Museveni is a dictator and thief unlike his
predecessors, Obote and Amin who were only dictators, and that Chapaa's
utterances intended to bring into hatred, contempt or excite disaffection
against the person of the president, government as established by law.