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Uganda: Court registrar under fire over assault on journalists

Kampala. Senior registrar of the High Court Fred Waninda is under fire for allegedly assaulting two journalists and damaging their cameras as they covered a land case in which he was involved last week.

Following the alleged assault of the journalists, Eric Yiga and Hannington Kisakye, attached to Salt Media and Smart 24, respectively last Wednesday, a video clip went viral on social highlighting what transpired.

In the video clip, a group of lawyers and litigants, are seen entering court and in the process, registrar Waninda, attached to the Judiciary’s Planning Department, is seen slapping one of the journalists who was filming him.

The journalist’s camera fell hard on the ground.

Subsequently, the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), a professional body that brings journalists together and fights for their professional rights in the country, has condemned the act and said they will petition the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) today for redress on Waninda’s behaviour.

The Judicial Service Commission is a statutory body mandated to recruit and discipline errant judicial officers.

“Following the assault of two journalists by the deputy judiciary registrar Mr Waninda Fred while at Commercial Court in Kampala on Wednesday 24th April 27 2019, the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), together with the victims will on Monday 29 at 10am petition the Judicial Service Commission over their officer’s nasty conduct,” reads in part the statement from the journalists’ body at the weekend.

Adding: “Our demand is that deputy registrar Mr Waninda Fred be interdicted immediately since his conduct is a threat to natural justice and human rights.”

In an earlier statement by the journalists’ body, they indicated they had already instructed lawyers of Kiiza & Mugisha Co Advocates to file a suit against Mr Waninda.

“We further condemn any kind of beastly acts against journalists and the public in general. We expect people like Mr Waninda to exhaust all civility approaches….,” UJA secretary wrote.
Section 236 of the Penal Code Act states that any person who commits an assault occasioning bodily harm, commits a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for five years.

Mr Waninda, a former prosecutor, referred us to the Public Relations Officer of the Judiciary, Mr Emmy Vincent Mugabo.

“We have a Public Relations Officer. If you talk to him, I am sure he will be able to tell you what happened,” Mr Waninda said.
However, in an earlier tweet by the media department of the Judiciary about the incident, they stated:

“We have seen media reports of an altercation between some journalists and our deputy registrar. The Judiciary is closely working with the police and complainants to establish the facts.

Findings will guide the action to be taken.”
The beating of the journalists came barely a week to the World Press Freedom Day.

Every year, on May 3, journalists around the world celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, devise mechanism of defending the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to their fellow journalists who have lost lives.

This year’s main celebrations will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from May 1 to 3.

The Addis Ababa celebrations are expected to provide a platform for multiple media actors to exchange views on the current issues, threats and achievements concerning freedom of the press.

By Daily Monitor

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