IFJ Welcomes Lifting of Uganda Ban on Daily and Calls for Charges to be Dropped

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today welcomed the re-opening of the offices of the independent daily newspaper, The Monitor, in Uganda.

Pressure from both national as well as international media organisations and press freedom groups forced the authorities to allow the offices to re-open last evening. All equipment seized by police was returned except two central processing units. Police said they were still trying to extract possible evidence from the processors.

However, the IFJ remains concerned over the fate of two of The Monitor Editors: Charles Onyango Obbo and Wanyama Wangah who were charged yesterday in court with publishing information prejudicial to national security and likely to assist the enemy in its operation. They were also charged with publishing false news.

They both pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Frank Nyakairu, the author of the story was flown from Gulu military base to Kampala Central Police Station late in the evening and is expected to be charged today. The charges follow the publication of a story about the downing of a helicopter, which the army said was untrue.

"This is not the way to deal with complaints over articles in the press," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, "If there are errors the record can be set straight in a professional manner. The charging of journalists smacks of intimidation and unacceptable pressure." The IFJ is calling for all charges to be dropped.