Ugandan media rights body paralysed following break-in

July 2, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Robert Ssewankambo

A media rights body, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has lost vital information and property following a break in at their office premises in the Ugandan suburb of Rubaga, all computers, documents and an unspecified amount of money for project activities being taken.

“It is hard for us to comprehend. This was a highly sophisticated intrusion. The organisation is paralysed, a lot of our important information was taken; we can’t tell what they intend to use it for. We suspect this to be a reprisal for the work we do in defending and promoting media freedoms and journalists’ rights in the country,” Robert Ssempala, the organisation’s National Coordinator stated.

This is the second time in two years this media rights organisation’s offices have been broken into. There have been several recent attempts to break into the office but each were foiled by security guards. However last night the security guard on duty disappeared in the morning after the break in, leaving behind her gun.

The attackers used the window on the National Coordinator’s office after removing the burglar proof bars to enter the premises, breaking all internal office doors, vandalising drawers and scattering documents on the floor. It was also confirmed that the attackers made away with the organisation’s money-safe which was vandalised and later found at the Rubaga police post by HRNJ staff who had gone to report the incident.

“When I arrived this morning I found the guard outside the gate which she then opened for me. I entered and proceeded to open the office where I was shocked to see broken pieces of metallic bars near my boss’s office window. I rushed back to check on the guard only to realise that she had disappeared leaving behind the gun” Emmanuel Magambo the in-charge Information Technology and Security at the organisation stated.

Numerous rights-based non-governmental organisations have been broken into in Uganda and useful information and property lost. According to NGO-Forum, over 15 offices of human rights organisations have been broken into under similar circumstances in recent times. They include; ACCU, FHRI, EHAHRDP, AGHA, HRNJ-Uganda, AFODE, HURINET-Uganda and ACME among others.

“Their interest was to access our information which they did because how do you explain the fact that expensive and portable machines like printers, projectors and photocopiers were not taken. They targeted specific offices within the premises, making us more suspicious of the attackers’ intentions. We hope that the police will investigate this matter to its logical conclusion” Robert Ssempala opined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Ssewankambo

Robert Ssewankambo is a Ugandan writer. Working currently on a freelance basis, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers in Uganda and electronic online magazines and media sources in Africa, such as the Bukedde newspaper, Hindered radio, Red Pepper, Eddobozzi newspaper and African Interest online.

For media enquiries, contact Robert at the following email address: sewankamborobert@gmail.com

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