STATEMENT BY HON. MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, H. ONEK ON THE SEARCH OF THE PREMISES OF THE DAILY MONITOR PUBLICATIONS AND THE RED PEPPER PUBLICATIONS


1) The on-going search by the Police of premises of the Daily Monitor publications and the Red Pepper publications is part of Police investigations into the letter that appeared in the Daily Monitor dated 7th May 2013, purportedly written by Gen. Sejusa to the Director General, Internal Security Organization, (ISO), and copied to a number of senior security officers, as well as investigation of documents, purportedly originating from Gen. Sejusa, that were published by the Red Pepper.

We wish to state from the outset, that in conducting this search, indeed, in carrying out this investigation, the Police have acted professionally, and within the law.

2) On Daily Monitor publications, the interest of the Police, and other sister agencies is to get the letter published by the Daily Monitor, and, given its security classification, investigate how the Daily Monitor got it, and possible violations of the law that may have been committed, especially, in respect of the Official Secrets Act, and the UPDF Act.

Logically, at the beginning of the investigation, the interest of the Police was to establish the authenticity of the letter published by the Daily Monitor. Police inquired from the Director General, ISO who stated that he never received the letter. The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) as well as the Director General, External Security Organization (ESO), to whom the letter was supposed to have been copied to, also, did not receive their copies.

Evidently, at that stage, it was only the Daily Monitor, who was in possession of the letter. Accordingly, the CID then summoned the Managing Editor of Daily Monitor publications, and the journalist who authored the story in which the letter was published, to assist in getting the letter as well as disclose the source of the letter. They refused to cooperate with the CID.

Subsequently, the CID applied, and got a court order under sec.38 of the Press and Journalist Act, to compel them to cooperate. In addition, the CID got information that the Daily Monitor publications, was in possession of other documents in relation to the contents of the letter, which they intended to publish. They, then, in addition, sought and got, from court, a search warrant to search the premises of the Daily Monitor publications. The search warrant was served and, duly acknowledged by the management of the Daily Monitor.

The search began on Monday, 20th May 2013, and, is, still on-going. I wish to clarify that Daily Monitor publications, KFM, and Dembe FM have not been closed. They have been asked to halt operations to facilitate the search and investigations on their premises. Indeed, from the moment the search began, the premises were declared a scene of crime under the custody of the Police. Consequently, Monitor Publications, KFM and Dembe FM (which are on the premises) had to be asked to temporarily stop operations so that routine activities and traffic in the premises associated with their business do not interfere with Police work. The search will go on until the letter and those other documents relating to the letter are found. Police have asked the management of the Daily Monitor to cooperate so that they expedite the exercise. Indeed, the duration of the search depends on whether or not the Daily Monitor cooperates with the Police in their investigations. Todate, they have declined to cooperate.

3) We should point out that this is not the first time Police is carrying out a search. In the course of investigations, Police sometimes finds it necessary, as in this case, to carry out searches. Incidentally, even in this particular case, Police, earlier, carried out a search of the offices of Gen Sejusa in the presence of his lawyers without any incident, and the premises remain a scene of crime. It is, therefore, surprising that anybody should make issue of this routine procedure in investigations when it comes to searching media houses. Are media houses governed by laws other than those that the rest of society are governed?!

4) On the Red Pepper publications, the Police has initiated investigations into publication of documents, purportedly originating from Gen Sejusa, and published in successive stories in the Red Pepper for possible violation of criminal laws. Similar to the case of the Daily Monitor, the Police sought and got a search warrant to look for these and other related documents as well as stories which violate the laws of Uganda.

5) Noteworthy, while the Press and Journalist Act, sec. 2 gives the right to publish a newspaper, that right is not absolute. It is qualified by sec.3 of the Act, which provides that the right does not absolve any person from complying with other laws. Even without that section, the right to publish a newspaper cannot mean that journalists and publishers, in doing so, are free to commit crimes.

The Police is committed to the rule of law and to respect the rights and freedoms of the media, as well as other persons and groups. However, at the same time, we have a constitutional mandate to ensure that the laws of Uganda are respected and upheld.

6) In conclusion, let me emphasize and assure all of you that the Daily Monitor publications, KFM, Dembe FM, as well as the Red Pepper have not been closed.

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