Vincent Matovu, managing editor of the local Luganda-language weekly Mazima, has been held on remand in Luzira prison since 6 January 2003, in connection with the publication of two articles concerning the war between rebel groups and government forces in the north of the country.
"This case shows once again that journalists are not free to publish their analyses of the conflict between the rebel groups and government forces," stated Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, in a letter to Information Minister Basoga Nsadhu. The organisation quotes from the report published on 18 January 2000 by Abid Hussain, United Nations special investigator, on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and of expression, in which he called upon "all governments to ensure that prison sentences are no longer handed out for media offences, apart from racist or discriminatory comments or incitement to violence". He had added that "a prison sentence as a punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion constitutes a serious violation of human rights". While not commenting on the content of this case, Reporters Without Borders has asked the minister to do his utmost to ensure that the journalist is released and is given a fair trial.
Mr Matovu is accused of sedition for having reported in two articles, published in October and November 2002, that LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels killed thousands of UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Force) soldiers and took possession of the Pader and Kapchorwa districts (in the north and the east of the country). After appearing before a court in Kampala, where he denied the charges brought against him, Mr Matovu was remanded in custody on 6 January and is being held in Luzira prison, near Kampala. The measures taken against him prevented the publication of Mazima in the last week of December 2002. Mr Matovu’s case is to be heard on 21 January.
Three journalists from The Monitor appeared before the courts in October 2002, charged with having published "false information endangering national security", after the publication of an article concerning the conflict between rebel and government forces in the north of the country. The police occupied the newspaper’s premises and prevented its publication for a week.