Government Statement On Daily Monitor Re-opening
Government has announced the re-opening of the Monitor Publications, 10 days after it was raided and closed by the police. Dembe FM and KFM, the sister radio stations also closed on the same day, May 20, are also allowed to resume normal operations. Outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek has told journalists at a press briefing in Kampala that the newspaper has agreed to a number of conditions. The full statement is here below…
GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE POLICE SEARCH AT THE MONITOR PUBLICATIONS, THURSDAY 30TH MAY 2013
1. On the 7th day of May 2013, the Daily Monitor published a classified letter headed “proposed investigations” dated 29th April 2013 purportedly written by Gen. David Sejusa, addressed to the Director General, Internal Security Organisation and copied to a number of senior security officers, including the Chief of Defence Forces and the Director General, External Security Organisation.
2. Soon after that publication, the Police initiated investigations to establish the authenticity of the letter published by the Daily Monitor.
3. According to the preliminary inquiries, it was established that the Director General, Internal Security Organisation, to whom the letter was addressed, as well as the officers to whom the letter was copied never received it. Evidently, it was only the Daily Monitor in possession of the letter.
4. The Police commenced investigations by asking the journalists and the editors of the Monitor to explain how they got the letter and also to avail the letter. However, the Monitor employees declined to cooperate.
5. Subsequently on the 9th of May 2013 the Police summoned the two journalists who were the authors of the story as well as the Managing Director, Monitor Publications Ltd. They reported to CID Headquarters on the 14th of May 2013. However, they refused to co-operate with the Police.
6. Given the lack of co-operation from the editors and journalists of the Monitor Publications Ltd, on 16 May 2013 the Police applied for and obtained an Order from Court compelling the Monitor Publications Ltd to avail not only the document but also state its source. Again the Monitor Publications Ltd declined to respect the court order.
7. Subsequently on the 20th of May 2013, the Police decided to go to court again and, this time obtained a search warrant authorizing the search of the Monitor premises for the letter as well as any other document related to or similar to it.
8. On the 24th of May 2013, the Police was served with a court order canceling the search warrant earlier issued. Noteworthy, the order canceling the search warrant was issued by the same Magistrate who had earlier issued the search warrant. The Police found this to be highly irregular and has challenged the order and the matter is before courts of law.
9. In order to facilitate the continuation and completion of the search, the Police invoked the provisions of S. 27 of the Police Act, which empowers Police to conduct searches without a search warrant.
10.It should be noted that from the time the search commenced, the Police treated the Monitor premises and had them sealed, as a scene of crime, because apart from the letter, certain crimes had been committed by the Monitor Publications Ltd in particular violations of the Official Secrets Act.
11.In the meantime the management of the Monitor Publications Ltd made contact with me and on the 24th and 25th May 2013 the Government and representatives of the Monitor Publications met in an effort to amicably settle the matter.
12.Later on Sunday the 26th of May 2013, the management of the Nation Media Group met H.E the President in Addis Ababa, where he was attending the AU summit, as a follow up to the above mentioned meeting.
13.As a follow up to the undertakings in the meeting between H.E the President and the Nation Media Group, a delegation led by myself met representatives of the Nation Media Group at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the Government side, the meeting was attended by Hon. Rose Namayanja Nsereko, Minister for Information and National Guidance, Gen. Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Christopher Gashirabake, the Ag. Solicitor General and Mr. Ofwono Opondo, In-coming Executive Director, Government Media Centre. The Nation Media Group was represented by Dr. Simon Kagugube, Chairman Monitor Publications Ltd and Mr. Linus Gitahi CEO. In the meeting the Media Nation Group made written undertakings to the Government.
Specifically, the following are the highlights:
(i) They highly regretted the story that led to the closure of the Monitor newspaper and KFM and Dembe Radio stations.
(ii) They undertook that the Monitor newspaper will only publish or air stories which are properly sourced, verified and factual.
(iii) They also undertook that the reporting in the Monitor newspaper will always be objective, fair and balanced.
(iv) They undertook to be sensitive to and not publish or air stories that can generate tensions, ethnic hatred, cause insecurity or disturb law and order.
(v) They acknowledged that there had been violations of their editorial policy by their Reporters and Editors in Uganda. They availed us with a copy of their Editorial Policy and undertook to ensure that both the letter and the spirit of the policy are respected.
(vi) They undertook to tighten their internal editorial and gate keeping processes, to ensure that stories that impact especially on national security are subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny and verification process before they run.
(vii) Further they undertook to seek regular interface with the Government of Uganda to ensure that the undertakings they have made will be respected and implemented.
(viii) They undertook to ensure that the Monitor Publications Ltd will observe and comply with the laws of Uganda. In particular they committed themselves to co-operate with the Police on the ongoing investigations.
14.In view of the above mentioned commitments and undertakings by the management of the Nation Media Group/Monitor Publications to the Government; and at the request of the management, the Police has called off the cordon of the Monitor premises so that they resume their normal business as police continue with the search.
Dated at Kampala this _30th_day of_May_2013.
Eng.Hilary Onek (MP)
MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS