Court in Makindye on 14th June 2019 charged a Drone Media journalist Pidson Kareire with criminal libel and offensive communication contrary to sections 179 and 25 of the Penal Code Act and Computer Misuse act respectively.
Middle East Consultants Limited, a labor export company dragged Pidson to court by private prosecution accusing him of criminal defamation and offensive communication. It is alleged that Pidson published stories on the Drone Media Website to the effect that Middle East Consultants extorts money from job seekers in return of jobs which are never availed.
Pidson denied the charges and was released on Shillings 10 million non-cash bail.
In his application for bail, Counsel Daniel Walyemera on behalf of HRNJ-Uganda told court that “The accused person has no past criminal record, has a fixed place of abode and substantial sureties to wit Miria Businge and Gumisiriza Yorokam. We humbly pray that non cash bail is granted to the accused because the work he was doing was not for his benefit but for the wider public”.
While granting bail, court presided over by the Makindye Grade 1 Magistrate Okumu Muwonge said, “The respondent is not present to respond to the bail application. I have no reason to object. The accused is granted non cash bail of 10 million shillings and each of the sureties’ 10 million non-cash.”
The matter is by private prosecution and Middle East Consultants Limited is represented by Counsel Charles Nsubuga of Muwema & Co. Advocates. Neither the complaint nor the lawyer were present in court.
The matter was adjourned to 1st July 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
The law on criminal defamation is being challenged by HRNJ-Uganda through the late Ronald Ssembuusi at the East Court of Justice in Arusha Tanzania arguing that the continued use by the Uganda government of section 179 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda which provides for the offence of criminal defamation is a violation of the fundamental and operating principles of the East African Community Treaty. Twenty organizations also applied to be joined as amici curiae (friends of court). A hearing date is yet to be communicated.
“HRNJ-Uganda welcomes this development and commends the court for exercising its mandate. The release of Pidson is a milestone which will give him more time to prepare for the trial. We now appeal to the court to hear and dispose of this matter expeditiously.” said HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director, Robert Ssempala.