August 16, 2022

Court Grants Bail to Journalists Jailed over Congo Roads Story

Pidson Karaire one of those accused of criminal defamation

By Our Reporter

Buganda Road in Kampala has granted cash bail to two online journalists accused of defaming a Ugandan company constructing roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pidson Kareire and Darious Magara of the Drone Media and the East African watch.net respectively were remanded to Kitalya Prison on May 27, 2021 on charges of criminal libel contrary to section 179 of the Penal Code Act.

While granting bail to the accused persons, Buganda Road Grade 1 Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu said that the accused persons were charged with a bailable offence and presented substantial sureties, and accordingly granted cash bail of one million shillings for each of them, and non-cash bail of twenty million shillings for each of the sureties.

The journalists were represented by Daniel Walyemera of Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda.

Prosecution led by Jacky Acao alleges that the duo and others at large between October and November 2020 in Kampala and thereabout by means of online platforms www.dronemedia.ug and www.eastafricanwatch.net published defamatory matters concerning Dott services Ltd and its inability to do good work on the Uganda-Congo road. The said stories were sourced from a debate in Parliament regarding Dott Services.

The case was adjourned to 24th July 2021 to commence with the hearing.

“We are glad that the journalists have been granted bail despite the stringent bail condition. This will enable them to adequately prepare for their trial. We appeal to court to hear and dispose of the matter expeditiously as it has a direct bearing on critical and independent journalism, as well as exercising a watchdog role.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director Robert Ssempala.

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