May 21, 2013
Yesterday morning, we received a search warrant from Magistrate’s Court in Nakawa requiring us to hand over to the police a Press Release that we had received from Gen. David Sejusa’s lawyers and published in the Red Pepper on May 15th 2013.
After consulting with our lawyers, we proceeded to hand over to the police a copy of this same Press Release. The police went ahead and carried out a search of our offices and cordoned of the area. Because of this, we have not been able to publish an edition of Red Pepper and it’s sister papers today.
We are saddened and disappointed that despite us complying with the court’s request, the police have refused to vacate our premises and to allow us to carry on with our work. They insist that they are carrying out more search for documents which they neither told us nor the magistrate who gave them the search warrant.
We have since been informed by our friends in government that this is not about just a Press Release which was distributed to all media in Uganda, but a long term plan orchestrated to cripple Red Pepper economically and disable its capacity to do business in Uganda anymore. We have been informed that the plan is to keep our offices closed for as long as they like, dismantle our new printing press, destroy our computers and servers by installing malicious malware and then hand over the junk when they are satisfied that we have been taken back to the stone age.
We need to remind all Ugandans and the international community that this is not the first time a raid of this nature is happening to Red Pepper. In 2008, men with guns, dressed in military uniform and riding government pick up trucks bombed this same printing press and burnt it down.
The act was captured on CCTV and despite a police investigation; none of the culprits has ever been brought to justice. This latest invasion is therefore another attempt to whet their long held desire to cripple an investment that is employing hundreds of Ugandans. This is a classic case of economic sabotage in which the government turns against a business owned by its citizens.
The Red Pepper is a law-abiding company. We respect the police and the courts of law. But we demand that the police and the courts of law do the same of law adding businesses in this country. There is no justifiable reason why the police and the courts should deny the hundreds of innocent Ugandans who work at The Red Pepper an opportunity to continue earning a living. If there’s a criminal case to pursue, we believe the process can go on without necessarily disabling the operations of a legally established company in Uganda.
We ask that the police and the courts to do their job without interfering with the freedom of the press as enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda.
The Pepper Publications Limited