The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has today condemned the killing of freelance journalist, Thomas Pere, of the New Vision Newspaper, on Sunday, June 16, 2013. “Thomas Père was found dead in a pool of blood in Masjja, a few kilometers south east of the capital, Kampala on the Entebbe road.
According to the Ugandan Journalists Union (UJU) an affiliate of FAJ, “The deceased had injuries all over his body but there were no signs of a struggle at the scene of the crime”, with the police indicating that the crime could have been committed elsewhere, and the body dumped in the trench. “The police were able to recover Thomas’s employment Identification Card, ATM Cards, wallet and phones.
“The killing of Thomas Père is one killing too many in Uganda” said, Mohamed Garba, President of FAJ. “Our colleagues in Uganda had over the past few years witnessed the murder of a number of journalists for no just reason. These callous and unprecedented murders are only aimed at intimidating journalists and starving the Ugandan citizens of the truth that journalists want to expose in relation to their noble duties”. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes are undesirable elements and cowards who pose a threat not only to journalists but to the entire citizens of Uganda. The Ugandan Government therefore should do everything within its means in the quickest possible time, to bring these criminals to justice.
Uganda police on 20 May besieged two privately owned newspapers and cut off two radio stations from the air in the capital city, Kampala. According to the UJU, on 20 May heavily armed policemen surrounded the “Daily Monitor” newspaper offices in Kampala, which is owned by Monitor Publications, and besieged the premises allowing no one to enter or come out. No official reasons were given for this act but UJU said, quoting sources, that the police were looking for evidence against an army general who recently questioned President Yoweri Museveni’s alleged plan to have his son succeed him.
It could be recalled that in September 2010, Journalist Paul Kiggundu of Top Television was beaten to death, while Dickson Ssentongo was also murdered in the same year. Earlier in 2008, Rebecca Wilbrod Kasujja was strangled to death and her killers are still at large. This latest killing therefore brings to four the number of Ugandan journalists who had been murdered within the past five years. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes are all at large as none of them had been apprehended by the police or tried in a competent court of law.
The FAJ calls on the Government of Yoweri Museveni, to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the dead of Thomas Pere without delay, and to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and brought to justice. It is Ugandan citizens that are being killed and the Ugandan Government has the moral responsibility and obligation to protect its citizens from banditry and unwarranted murders. Such killings are unacceptable in any civilised society. Ugandan democracy and rule of law has therefore been put to the test and the government must respond by bringing the killers to justice.
FAJ represents more than 50.000 journalists in 40 countries in Africa