Uganda police raid Red Pepper, as Dar media house catches fire

Wednesday November 22 2017

Uganda police raid.

Officers from the Counter Terrorism unit raid Red Pepper offices in Kampala's Mukono District, Uganda. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By DAILY MONITOR
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By THE CITIZEN
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Uganda police have raided the offices of an independent media house in the capital Kampala.

The officers, led by Kampala Metropolitan Commander Frank Mwesigwa, on Tuesday searched Red Pepper’s head office in Namanve, Mukono District.

POLICE RAID

A search warrant signed by the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court authorised the officers to search “….laptops, desktops, CPUs, computer accessories (electronics) and any other document related to Red Pepper news publication vol. 17 no.152 of Monday, November, 2017.”

The Red Pepper lead story on Monday reported deteriorating relations between Uganda and Rwanda. The Uganda Foreign Affairs ministry dismissed the report as fake.

The court order to search premises was sought by one Henry Peter Walya, an Assistant Inspector of Police.

"The RedPepperUG is currently under siege by the Counter Terrorism Unit of the @PoliceUg & @metropolitanpoliceug," said the paper's company secretary Arinaitwe Rugyendo on his Twitter handle.

PHONES

Red Pepper management said on their social media platforms that staff were also ordered to handover phones, iPads and laptops to be searched.

"Police have told some of our staff members to stay behind because they are going to search their homes as well," says Mr Patrick Mugumya, the chief operations officer, Pepper Publications Group.

In Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya, journalists continued to experience legal and political pressure, as well as physical attacks and intimidation.

PRESS FREEDOM

Freedom of the press has been declining in Uganda in recent years, according to the Washington based-rights body, Freedom House.

“Uganda declined due to increased government pressure on media outlets regarding coverage of political events, along with a growth in bribery in exchange for favourable election-related reporting,” Freedom House noted in its 2016 report.

According to the body’s country rankings, Uganda ranked 24th on the continent and at 122 in globally.

FIRE

In Dar es Salaam, Clouds Media Group headquarters based in Mikocheni caught fire on Tuesday.

The cause of the fire – which erupted at around 10am – was not established immediately.

People who were in the neighbourhood said they saw flames erupting from some of the buildings.

It was later established the flames started on the first floor of the building, trapping a number of people on the top floor.

Firefighters put out the fire hours later and no serious injuries have been reported so far.

CMG programmes director Ruge Mutahaba said their radio and television programmes would resume within hours.