Monitor Scribe On The Spot Over Police Shooting Hoax
A Daily Monitor journalist lied that police opened fired at him during an opposition riot in Kalerwe, a Kampala suburb, a private investigator has revealed.
On January 25, Daily Monitor published allegations that a live round was shot at its photographer Isaac Kasamani. These allegations went on to be repeated widely by other media channels both here and overseas.
Now State Minister for Internal Affairs James Baba says an independent investigation carried out by a private investigator William Redmond has found that Kasamani peddled lies.
The revelation, if true, will be a blow to Kasamani’s credibility for lacking honesty and Daily Monitor’s reputation will be put to test for publishing concoctions.
While Kasamani refused to be interviewed by experts over the incident, saying police is partisan, Baba says the investigator has an impressive international track record developed during his 35 year career as a senior police officer and investigator.
“Most recently, he was Director of the National Drug Enforcement Agency of Seychelles. Redmond was a distinguished senior member of the Irish national police force, An Garda Siochana and served as Commander of UN Police in Cyprus,” notes Baba.
The Minister calls upon Monitor to practice professional journalism.
Below is Baba’s full press statement issued Monday.
REPORT FROM INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATOR INTO ALLEGED SHOT FIRED BY POLICE AT KALERWE, KAMPALA, ON TUESDAY 24 JANUARY 2012
On Wednesday the 25th of January the Daily Monitor published allegations that a live round was shot at its photographer Mr. Isaac Kasamani. These allegations went on to be repeated widely by other media channels both here and overseas.
Despite the fact that no formal complaint was made to The Uganda Police Force an investigation was immediately launched at the direction of the Inspector General of Police in line with our commitment that any allegation of criminal or improper conduct on the part of any police officer would be fully investigated and that any person found to have acted in an unlawful manner, would face the full force of the law.
I recognised that in the interest of transparency and best investigative practice, it would be preferable to have an independent investigator lead an enquiry into so serious an allegation against the police. On the 7th of February I announced that the Ministry of Internal Affairs would appoint such an independent investigator.
Mr. William Redmond was engaged by my Ministry to investigate the allegations made by Mr. Isaac Kasamani a few days later.
Mr. Redmond has an impressive international track record developed during his 35 year career as a senior police officer and investigator. Most recently, he was Director of the National Drug Enforcement Agency of Seychelles. Mr. Redmond was a distinguished senior member of the Irish national police force, An Garda Siochana and served as Commander of UN Police in Cyprus.
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Uganda, I wish to thank Mr. Redmond for his assistance in undertaking this investigation in such a thorough, professional and efficient manner.
Mr. Redmond has now concluded his investigation and presented his report to me.
During the investigation all identifiable pertinent witnesses were interviewed and statements recorded. I also wish to express thanks to all those who cooperated with the investigator in the course of his enquiries.
In addition to statements taken from witnesses, phone records were examined, photographic evidence was gathered and analysed, inspections of the scene were undertaken and ballistic examinations of weapons were carried out.
Today I make the report available to the media in its entirety. Copies will be available at the end of this briefing from the Uganda Media Centre and it will be posted on both the Uganda Media Centre and Ministry of Internal Affairs websites, to allow any interested party to access it.
The key findings are:
Despite interviews with a number of people who were on the scene, no other witness reports a shot as having been fired at Mr Kasamani.
Mr Kasamani himself does not claim to have seen a gun fired at him. Rather he speaks of “sparks”.
Having analysed and observed demonstrations of all police equipment available to the police officers in the vehicle involved in the incident, Mr Redmond concludes that the 64mm gas/smoke canister which were used “emits a sharp noise which sounds like a shot and as it explodes… sparks are emitted”.
The witness with the best vantage point from which to observe states that at the time at which Mr Kasamani claims to have been shot at; a canister was thrown out of the vehicle.
It is clear on any reasonable assessment of the facts that no shot was fired by police at Mr Isaac Kasamani. I must assume Mr Kasamani was mistaken.
Honest mistakes happen. There is no culpability in making an honest mistake but I feel bound to say that some people in the media bear culpability for their lack of professionalism.
Journalists who reported Mr. Kasamani’s allegations as fact demonstrated in my view poor judgment. Editors who printed unsubstantiated allegations without even remotely suggesting that they were unsubstantiated and disputed did a disservice to not only their readers, viewers or listeners but also to the traditions, practice and honor of journalism.
It is increasingly clear that journalistic standards in this country need to see some great improvement. The media must be seen to be objective to its readers. They must report the news without fear or favor.
Many people in the media are quick to claim they have reasons to fear, yet at the same time they seem all too willing to demonstrate favor.
They seem unwilling to scrutinize claims made against the government and agencies like the police or even to make clear that an allegation is under investigation and should not be reported as fact in the absence of corroborative evidence.
We in government should soon come to a point when we will have to consider how the media is regulated in this country.
We simply cannot continue to allow our international reputation to be tarnished by false reports which are published as fact. It is something I intend to raise in cabinet with a number of my colleagues.
I try never to miss an opportunity to restate the government’s commitment and that of the Uganda Police Force, to protecting all citizens and their constitutional rights.
These include the rights of any police officer or group of police officers who are accused of impropriety or even criminality. They too are entitled to due process and to be free from unproven allegations being reported as fact.
Let me conclude by saying that we take any allegations of police misconduct very seriously and that any and all complaints made will be thoroughly investigated. There is no place in Uganda Police Force for those who fail to meet the highest standards of conduct and professionalism.
I say all this for God and my Country
Amb. James Baba Minister of State for Internal Affairs
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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