NBS TV senior journalist, Twaha Mukiibi is filled with joy and happiness after being awarded Shs 40 million as damages in a suit he filed against individual police officers for being tortured.
In 2018, Mukiibi dragged three police officers including Peter Austin Ocen, Ali Kakooza, and Kalange Yakut plus others to High Court after being assaulted in the line of his duty.
The incident took place after Mukiibi had gone to interview Paddy Sserunjogi alias Sobbi at Rose Gardens in Kyengera, Wakiso district.
The interview came shortly after the group had bragged to have worked with senior police officers to rob and kill people in Kampala.
In the middle of interview, policemen stormed the venue and started beating everyone at the scene including Mukiibi even after he had identified himself as a journalist.
Through his lawyers Walyemera & Co. Advocates and supported by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, Mukiibi sued the government and the police officers.
In his ruling the High Court Judge Ssekaana Musa said the police erred since Mukiibi was was covering a story and had clearly identified himself as a journalist of NBS.
“The actions of the police officers appeared to have be intended to indeed inflict pain and suffering by way of
torture to restrain the applicant from executing his work as a journalist,”he said.
Ssekaana explained that Article 50 (1) of the Constitution provides that any person who claims that a fundamental or other right or freedom guaranteed under this Constitution has been infringed is entitled to apply to a competent Court for redress which may include compensation.
“Freedom from torture is a non negotiable right under our Constitution which however was violated by the defendant,”he said adding the prohibition against torture is a bedrock principle of international law. Court awarded Mukiibi Shs 40 million in damages.
Dan Walyemera, Mukiibi’s lead lawyer advised police officers to always follow the law while carrying out their duties noting that the legal victory should be a big lesson to individual officers.
Robert Ssempala, the executive director of Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda(HRNJ-U) told Nile Post in a brief interview that the victory implies that security forces misuse their powers and deliberately violate press freedom.
“We would like to take this opportunity to warn Media Council against it’s decision to let the police implement it’s directives by denying unaccredited journalists from covering 2021 general elections,”he said.
Mukiibi said he wanted those who assaulted him to be dismissed from the force.
“This should be a big lesson to individual officers that they will be responsible for their own actions. This should also be a lesson to my fellow journalists that our rights are being violated in the line of our work, so let’s come out and fight for press freedom,”Mukiibi told Nile Post.