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A call for justice. ‘’Targeted’’ a year later

By Grace Birungi

‘’I am not looking for compensation but justice,’’ Ashraf Kasirye, a journalist who was targeted during the 2020/21 Uganda election, said.

During a dialogue organized by the African Institute for Investigative journalism (AIIJ) on 18th May 2022 at Golden Tulip hotel, candid conversations on justice for journalists that were “targeted” during elections took center stage.

It was walking down memory lane and reopening discussions on demanding for arrest and trial of security officers who violated the rights of journalists. At the peak of the 2021 General Election in Uganda, the African Institute for Investigative journalism published a documentary “targeted” that showcased chilling narratives of journalists who were tortured.

A panel discussion moderated by Solomon Serwanjja, Executive Director of AIIJ, centered on the lives of journalists who were featured in the documentary a year later.

An emotional moment it was for Irene Abalo, a journalist with the Daily Monitor who to date walks on a crutch as she faced her tormentors.  “Every time I see a man dressed in a UPDF uniform; I get traumatized. Life has been different for me. For months I could not support myself including going to the washroom. I cannot practice journalism as I did. I am only reduced to a voice-over artist to read scripts for NTV Panorama.” She said.

Ashraf Kasirye, a Ghetto TV journalist who had his head covered, explained that he can’t stand noise, wind, or sunlight, which is why he covers his head.

 “Media in Uganda is not respected by people who lead us, to an extent that, when a security officer comes out to shoot or beat a journalist, like how Enock Baine who shot me, nothing is done,” Ashraf concluded.

Daniel Lutaaya, a journalist with NBS, said if what happened to them had happened elsewhere in the world, something would be done. ‘’If you think what you are doing is right, why do you fear cameras,” he added.

Daniel concluded by saying, press freedom in Uganda is possible even when they will not see it, but it will come.

Derrick Wandera, a journalist with the Daily monitor, advised that, the only thing that can be done to stop violence is using a pen and paper to put faces to it and when it happens, the perpetrators will be isolated.

Uganda People’s Defense Forces spokesperson, Afande Felix Kulaigye, who was the keynote speaker apologized on behalf of the UPDF to the journalists that were tortured. “I am annoyed by incidents such as these that involve men in uniform beating up journalists. I condemn this strongly and it has been a part of my teaching series for soldiers in military colleges”

Benjamin Katana, a human rights lawyer expressed his concern about how men and women in uniform chose to have a side in politics, and whoever is not on their side is targeted and dealt with as an enemy of the state.

‘’It doesn’t call for journalists to be battered. What is the role of regulations? They don’t even wait for you to go through the processes of the law. It is an illusion for journalists to think their rights will be respected in a country where human rights are not respected,’’ Benjamin said.

Ruth Ssekindi, the head of the Uganda Human Rights Commission added that there is a need for more training and sensitization, and background checks before the recruitment of officers.

Torture and imprisonment have deprived many journalists around the world of their watchdog role, and nothing has been done to hold the perpetrators accountable. A lot more demands for journalist justice must be made through advocacy and publicizing atrocities against journalists.

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Following the COVID-19 vaccine money, where is the 560BN?

By Grace Birungi

Uganda was in desperate need of vaccines at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of infections soared. During the first wave in 2020, parliament allocated 18.5 billion shillings to procure 18 million doses through the covax facility. In addition, the government allocated 560 billion shillings in the fiscal year 2021/2022 budget to purchase more vaccines.

During the same financial year, parliament appropriated 80 billion shillings to National Medical Stores (NMS) to procure additional vaccines. This money was fully released by the Ministry of Finance to both NMS and Ministry of health. However, Uganda’s vaccines have been donations from development partners amounting to 1.3 trillion shillings.

The investigation focuses on the accountability of the money that was given to NMS and the Ministry of Health (MOH) from the government consolidated fund to procure vaccines during the first and second wave of the pandemic mindful that many of the vaccines have been donations.

The investigation was guided on three questions;

1. Were the vaccines bought?

2. If yes, how many vaccines were procured and at what price?

3. Why did the ministry of health takeover the procurement of vaccines from the NMS body mandated by law to procure and distribute medical supplies?

Finding answers to the questions became very difficult due to a lack of access to information from the two bodies, NMS and MOH, prompting the investigations team to turn to open source information; reviewing parliamentary proceedings, documents presented by both agencies in committees, and obtaining archive footage.

While appearing before a 40-member parliamentary taskforce on COVID-19, the National medical stores general manager, Moses Kamabale told the committee that, they had not received the 18.5 billion shillings but rather, the 80 billion shillings that was appropriated in the financial year 2021/2022

When asked about the whereabouts of the money, finance minister Matia Kasaija, who also attended the meeting, said that he came to the meeting unprepared and thus didn’t have any information. The committee was unable to obtain answers to accountability questions regarding the 18.5 billion, 80 billion, and 560 billion given to the MOH.

Later in the month of January, the Auditor General, John Muwanga, finalized with his forensic and audit into the expenditure relating to COVID-19 for the financial year 2020/2021. Indeed, the 18.5 billion was captured in his report as having been disbursed to the MOH, however the Auditor General did not go deep to discuss the expenditure, he did not speak about how many vaccines were procured and at what price.

When the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Acheng was contacted for some answers, she stated that, the ministry could fully account for the money. According to her submission, the 18.5 billion plus the 80 billion and an additional 30 billion was all spent on vaccines.

Dr. Jane Ruth Acheng, too, did not reveal how many vaccines were procured, how much money was deposited on the UNICEF account to procure the vaccines under the covax facility, and at what rate per doze.

The investigation revealed that only 128 Billion Shillings was advanced to UNICEF to procure 3 million doses of vaccines. The Ministry of Health was not able to provide evidence of expenditure on the procurement of the vaccines for the 450 Billion shillings. Watch the investigation here.

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TIPS FOR FACT-CHECKING DURING AN ELECTION

By Vincent Ng’ethe.

A number of countries will have elections in 2022, including Kenya, Chad, Angola, the Gambia, Mali, Congo, Libya, Senegal and others.  Here, Vincent Ng’ethe provides some tips to help you check the claims candidates make and keep misinformation at bay.

  1. Watch and listen

To catch misinformation, you have to listen for it. Watch political rallies, radio and TV talk shows, and social media posts. Make a schedule of shows so that you don’t miss any. Talk shows often advertise their guests on social media, so check ahead of time to see who will be featured.

2. Follow and tap into conversations and trends

Follow the news in order to understand the latest political arguments, buzzwords, talking points and trends. Some politicians, such as the president, are always in the news, while others appear more sporadically. People posting misinformation often follow these conversations in order to take advantage of elevated public interest in a certain event or person.

3. Make lists and queries

Create lists of social media accounts that share misinformation and check them frequently. Social media trends are often artificially created and many repeat actors are involved. Create queries of terms that are often used to make claims or incitement and create alerts so that you receive notifications.

4. Archive first

As soon as possible after hearing or reading the claim, archive videos, social media posts, web pages and documents where claims have been made, preferably before checking them. Often, checking a claim means contacting the person who made it to ask for evidence, and their first order of business after getting off the phone with you may be to delete it or edit out the offending snippet.

Note also that quotes of interest made in a live broadcast may not be preserved in the excerpts that are chosen for a news bulletin, and live streams may not be preserved.  Public figures can deny making remarks and they may get away with it if nobody has preserved a copy.

5. Select specific claims that are actually checkable

Be very specific about the exact claim you are checking. Ensure you are fact-checking verbatim quotes, not a paraphrased statement, which the speaker can deny making. Get a video or audio recording of a person making the claim.  If you are fact-checking a speech, check the speech as was delivered, not the original published version.

6. Guard your credibility

Perceptions of bias are fatal to your credibility as a fact-checker, so ensure that you are nonpartisan, and do not check claims by only one side of the political divide or a single political party. Try and check claims by all political candidates. Do not feel compelled to check a claim because there are demands to check it, rather check it because it measures up to your own rules for claim selectio (see an example from Africa Check here).

7. Collect credible evidence

Look for credible sources of evidence. Look at official statistics, peer reviewed research and reports from credible research institutions. Collecting them as you go means that you will spend less and less time checking claims as you gain experience, making it possible to check your claims faster, and in a more timely fashion. Often the ability to check a claim hinges on whether credible evidence against which to test the claim can be found. Lack of evidence may lead it being abandoned, so focus on the availability of evidence early in the process.

8. Identify and work with experts

You need experts to help you interpret data and also to explain why claims are accurate or inaccurate. They can also direct you to the best sources of information, or suggest other experts. Get to know as many credible experts in the field as possible (Africa Check recommends that you contact more than one expert when checking a claim). Ask the experts questions until you understand the data and the explanations properly.

If a particular field predominates your fact-checking work, such as epidemiology during the Covid-19 pandemic, national debt or human rights, knowing multiple experts means you can alternate between experts at busy times, reducing the frequency with which you call on any one. They’re busy people, so they’ll appreciate that.

9. Reach out

Tell the public that you are fact-checking claims during the election, and give them a means to contact you, such as a WhatsApp number or email. Growing a fact-checking community not only increases your readers, but provides feedback that will improve your work and challenge your biases. Lastly, they will also notify you of potential claims you could check.

10. Check

The most important part of the job. Once you have written your report, go through it meticulously. Ensure you have checked the correct claim, all your links lead to the correct sources, your numbers add up, and that you have correctly captured and understood what the experts said. Make sure you understand the report. Also come up with a fitting conclusion (See this Africa Check conclusion on reaching a verdict).

11. Publish

Most people, particularly politicians, do not appreciate being publicly corrected, so your fact-checking endeavors may not be enthusiastically welcomed. At all times maintain a cordial manner. Notifying public figures that you are checking a claim means they will not be taken by surprise when you eventually publish. Avoid sensational headlines or reports and stick to the facts. Ask makers of claims to consider making a correction, and point out the benefits to their credibility of admitting to, and correcting, an error.  It helps if you have a previous example of a correction to show them. Finally, if you receive backlash, do not feel free to engage in endless online back-and-forth. Do what you can, and let it drop.

Should you make an error…

As a fact-checker, who checks claims by others, your own work is closely scrutinized. Should you make a mistake, whether you notice it yourself, or it is brought to your attention, do not hide it. Instead, acknowledge and correct it publicly. It’s the least the public deserves.

Vincent Ng’ethe is an experienced journalist and fact-checking editor.

News

Female investigative journalists share their stories

By Cecilia Okoth

Working as an investigative journalist is tough. Working as a female investigative journalist presents more challenges, among them, harassment.

While celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) held candid conversations on what it means to be a female investigative journalist.

These discussions according to Solomon Serwanjja, the Executive Director of AIIJ were meant to celebrate some of the women who have been able to produce some of the finest investigative pieces but also tap into their knowledge on how they executed their work.

Various newsrooms across the globe continue to be male-dominated. However, some women working in these spaces have broken the barriers and have produced some of the best investigative stories.

That notwithstanding, a lot still needs to be done to encourage more women to pick up their interest in investigative journalism.

Female journalists, too, often pay a high personal price and suffer from long hours and high levels of stress. It is therefore important to discuss these issues while celebrating the inspiring work being done by women.

Breaking barriers

Peris Gachahi, an investigative journalist with Africa Uncensored in Nairobi, Kenya said being a female investigative journalist has given her the opportunity to do stories that really matter and touch the lives of people she never thought she could reach.

“It has given me a voice as a woman in a male-dominated field,” she said.

Gachahi investigated a story titled, ‘Crooks & Wombs’ which explored the risks that some women and young girls in the reproductive ages across Kenya are taking to get quick fix abortions.

Gachahi explained that there are however many reasons to consider investigative journalism as a dangerous profession, especially for women because they suffer two-fold-both because of their work and because they are women.

“Women encounter different forms of attacks ranging from threats and physical attacks, sexist insults, sexual violence, and online trolling,” she said.

She was however optimistic that proper training, skills, the right attitude, and proper support systems all around will enable women to take up the investigative journalism field.

Cecilia Okoth, a multimedia investigative journalist with New Vision in Kampala, Uganda, said investigative journalism catapulted her to a different level and this made her stand out in the profession.

With little knowledge on the beat (investigative journalism), Okoth made her debut with a story titled, ‘Cancer patients bribe for attention’. She camped at the Uganda Cancer Institute for over two months to expose the wrongdoing at the health facility.

This was after cancer patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute complained about parting with bribes ranging from sh150,000 ($40) to sh1m ($270) in order to access radiotherapy services, which are otherwise free of charge.

“As journalists, we are often told, you are as good as your last story so that technically means your best story is one that you have not yet done. This pushes me to work harder,” Okoth said.

She however advised fellow colleagues to exercise patience saying being an investigative journalist isn’t a single day’s task.

“You have to be patient and master the art of storytelling. Also, pay attention to small details because these have the potential to unearth big revelations. But above all, do not fear to seek help from colleagues who have been in the field longer,” she said.

“As a field journalist, I have seized the opportunity to transform the lives of people I have been assigned to report about. The stories I have covered have helped to get rid of the disconnect between public sentiments about service delivery and the actual challenges that ordinary people face,” Okoth said.

Naipanoi Lepapa, a freelance investigative journalist in Kenya, perceives investigative journalism as a vehicle for social change.

“My work as an investigative journalist is to shine a spotlight on inequalities, injustices, and abuses of power. It is giving a voice to the minority and the marginalised. By highlighting these issues, I am able to help start uncomfortable conversations that create awareness, help lead to policy or system change,” Lepapa said.

She however underscored the need to always seek knowledge and be informed about the topics one intends to investigate. This also includes critically analyzing information as well as looking at facts that help deliver the stories well.

Lepapa’s investigative story titled, ‘Hard labor: The Unregulated Kenyan Surrogacy Industry’, delved into the largely unregulated Kenyan surrogacy industry, revealing numerous allegations ranging from coercion, exploitation, and intimidation of surrogates, human trafficking, forced abortions & identity forgery, and fraud.

This investigation exposed rogue agents that have been taking advantage of the existing legal loopholes, to deceive desperate commissioning parents and vulnerable surrogates. 

Acknowledging that investigative journalism is an expensive and risky venture, Lepapa said no story is worth your life, urging fellow journalists to always work with credible institutions, look out for grants, and to be mindful of their mental wellbeing.

“Investigative journalism is tough. You will get disappointed sometimes but do not give up. When you face roadblocks, take a break from work, take care of yourself and go back when you are mentally and physically fit,” she advised.

Pauli Van Wyk, an investigative journalist with the Daily Maverick, in Johannesburg South Africa. She has written in-depth about the justice cluster, SOEs, and politics.

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Investigative journalism, “An Untapped opportunity”

By Grace Birungi

As part of celebrating the international women’s day 2022, the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ), in collaboration with Uganda Christian University (UCU) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) went all out to motivate and inspire young female journalists to explore the space of investigative journalism.

Investigative journalism is largely known to be a manual field with very few female journalists occupying this space. Under the UN theme for this year “”Breaking the Bias,” we believe that female journalists too can-do great investigations if supported and motivated. Indeed, to break this bias, we tackled the issue right from journalism schools to the newsrooms.

As part the celebrations, AIIJ, UCU, and KAS screened a documentary film titled A thousand Cuts at UCU’s Nkoyoyo hall, which documents the life of Maria Ressa, an investigative journalist from the Philippines who fights for press freedom and speaking truth to power.

After the screening, we had both a panel and plenary discussion around the film and generally on women in the space of investigative journalism. The panel was moderated by AIIJ’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr Raymond Mujuni. The panelists included Anna Reisman, Country Director of the Konrad Adenure Stiftung, Dr. Patricia Litho, Ceillia Okoth, an investigative journalist with New vision, and Dr. Annette Keezabu, Head of the Postgraduate Studies School of Journalism at Uganda Christian University. The discussion focused on how women can overcome biases and capitalize on the untapped opportunity of investigative journalism.

Dr. Patricia Litho, a women and media scholar delivered the keynote address which largely focused on the need for interest for female journalist to take up the space. She shared some tips that female journalist can embrace to interest their editors to assign them on investigative stories. She spoke among others about the need to have powerful pitch, developing a skill set and a tool set if female journalists are to aggressively take up this space.

The event was graced by the vice chancellor of UCU Prof.  Aaron Musherezi, who applauded the African Institute for Investigative Journalism for being a center of excellence for investigative journalism. “We believe that what AIIJ is doing to promote investigative journalism right from Universities is very important. Today, we sign a memorandum of understanding with them to work together on several fronts including training our students, doing research in this field and working on short courses around investigative journalism,” he added.

The Executive Director, AIIJ Mr. Solomon Serwanjja after signing the MOU said “We are so excited about this new partnership with UCU. As the institute ours is to nature the next investigative journalists who will be brave enough to hold the powerful accountable by outputting great investigations. We know that to achieve this, we have to start working from the grassroot which is tertiary institutions like UCU.”

Speaking at the event, the Country Representative, KAS, Anna Reisman, said, “Investigative journalism brings out the most hidden in our societies, it questions power, and we need it for democracy, and democracy is very strongly linked to peace and progress.” She pledged her support to AIIJ to advance the role of investigative journalism in advocating for good governance and democratic leadership in Uganda.

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African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) bags Shs 18 million grant


by AMON KATUNGULU
The African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) has been announced winners of the Digital Human Rights Lab innovation challenge 2021, a program that seeks to integrate digital innovations to advance Human Rights in Uganda.
AIIJ which was part of the 10 teams selected from over 100 applicants went through an intensive 4 weeks training program on developing and shaping digital innovations to promote human rights.
The training program which was conducted by some of Uganda’s top tech giants included designing prototypes that will later on be developed and actualized to defend human rights in different spheres.
The programme climaxed with an offline pitch event where 4 teams emerged winners of the Shs 60 million grant funding and six months’ mentorship program to develop and to sustainably implement their digital solutions. For winning this, AIIJ will receive Shs 18 million grant.
Whilst presenting the award to AIIJ, Edmond Atto a software engineer and a member of the jury commended the institute for their timely innovation.
“First of all, their presentation was powerful, I learnt today the power of a story and the passion that drives the need to tell stories accurately, the justice that can come from telling a well-curated story. We all know now better than ever how important it is for us to have a platform to tell curated and censored human rights stories,” Atto said.
The executive director of AIIJ Solomon Serwanjja who led the team said the “iRoom” which is their new innovation will go a long way in documenting human rights abuses committed against Ugandans.
“We believe that when social evil happens in our societies and we stay silent, we betray our communities. This is why we are coming up with this innovation to investigate and document human rights violations committed by different agencies to name and shame them but most importantly to bring them to account. We are truly grateful for the support that we have received from the mentors and trainers,” Serwanjja said.
Raymond Mujuni, the deputy executive Director at AIIJ added: “This online platform that we have come up with will enable human rights defenders to be able to tell stories of human rights violations using crowdsourcing curation, editing, and publications. It will create a safe space for the public to contribute to a body of work that can be used as evidence to bring to book the abusers.”
Sophie Dienberg, one of the trainers at start Hub Africa said “all participants came out as winners because they all share the same goal of making human rights work in Uganda better, easier, and more efficient with the help of digital technology.”
Other winners of the evening included the Kuchu Care Team, Girl Power Connect Team and the Safe Bangle Team.

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New film paints dark world for defiled victims seeking justice


By ESTHER OLUKA, Daily monitor
Sexual assault continues to become a national crisis in the country with victims increasingly finding it difficult to access justice from respective authorities.
This revelation was part of the findings from yesterday’s launch of the investigative documentary film titled ‘defiled by my father’, a product of the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ).
The one-hour film, which showed on YouTube during the afternoon hours, was by Mr. Solomon Serwanjja, an investigative journalist and executive director of AIIJ.
It exposes the loopholes in the justice system that sexual predators are using to avoid the justice system. Mr. Serwanjja tells a chilling story of a 13-year-old minor who was allegedly defiled by her father.
“People have learnt how to compromise the justice system and this is what the story reveals,” he told Daily Monitor.

The narrative
The documentary starts with an account of the family background of the minor, Nakamatte (not real name).
The girl’s parents had separated eight years ago and there was no communication between the couple until recently in early February when the child’s father reached out to his former partner, claiming he wanted to see the children.
The children started visiting their father, a habit that went on for weeks, until one day when Nakamatte’s mother noticed something wrong with her daughter.
Though she was reluctant to speak out on what happened to her the first time, Nakamatte eventually opened up the second time after being interrogated by her mother.
“The child told me that she had a bad dream about her father defiling her, yet, he had actually defiled her,’’ the mother said during the documentary.
After opening up about her defilement ordeal, the mother took Nakamatte to Ggaba Police Station
“The child took us to his (former partner’s) place. Statements were taken, he [the father] was arrested and the case was forwarded to Kabalagala Police Station,” she said.
Nakamatte was raped twice, leaving her with pain in her pelvis.
The documentary further shows a pattern of authorities who have mastered the art of killing cases at different points of the justice system.
At Kabalagala Police Station, she was told the person who stood in for the suspect was not around and if she had any complaints, then, she needed to go to the State Attorney where the orders came from.
She then reported to Katwe Police Divisional headquarters after learning that Nakamatte’s father had been released. Immediately after his release, he began bragging that he did not have a case to answer and that he was being framed.
Nakamatte’s father was rearrested and is currently on remand at Kitalya Maximum Security Prison, in Wakiso District pending court-trial.
Mr Sserwanjja said people have learnt to compromise officers who are at the lower end of the justice system including those involved in sexual cases.
There are two different medical reports on Nakamatte’s condition. While investigating the case at Katwe Police Divisional headquarters, the investigations officer called for another medical examination of both Nakamatte and her father on March 26.
The report was done by a clinical senior officer at Nsambya Police Health Centre. According to the report, Nakamatte had two tears in the upper labia minora and an already raptured hymen. The possible cause of injuries, according to the report, was forceful penile penetration. This is different from another medical report from Mayfair Clinic done on March 4, which stated that there were no bruises, but, rather pain on squeezing some parts of the genitals.
While examining the two medical reports, Dr Moses Mwanje, a senior gynecologist, said in the documentary that it depended on who was conducting the examination because people see different things.
“The two people may not be of the same qualification or knowledge or ability to examine a child,” he said.
Dr Mwanje suggested that the medical officer from Mayfair Clinic might have been compromised.
Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala metropolitan deputy police spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that sexual assault cases are among the mostly registered ones during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Part of the challenges we face when dealing with such cases is that we fail to get the samples (from victims) early enough. In the end, police have to mostly rely on statements of the victim and parents which we forward to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who in the end advises on how we proceed with the case,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jameson Karemani, the Judiciary spokesperson, said when sexual-related cases are taken to court, sometimes there are difficulties encountered in handling them because of financial constraints and limited human resource.
“We are finding ways of dealing with these issues so that the cases are handled on time,” Mr Karemani said.
Mr James Tumusiime, the country director at Reach A Hand Uganda, a non-profit organisation focused on youth empowerment, said the documentary reveals that parents ought to create an environment that allows free engagement with their children, but also, there should be other mechanisms where information can be given.
Nakamatte’s mother said all she needs is justice to prevail for her daughter whose pregnancy test recently came out as negative. The victim continues to seek treatment for both her physical and emotional wounds inquired during her rape ordeals.
The statistics on defilement
Statistics from the 2020 annual crime report reveal that 14,230 victims were defiled in 2020 of whom 14,080 were female juveniles, 140 were male juveniles and 10 female adults. Of the cases of defilement reported in 2020, a total of 10, 413 were defilement while 3,721 were aggravated defilement. By the end of 2020, a total of 5,745 cases were taken to court, out of which 794 cases secured convictions, 22 cases were acquitted, 168 cases were dismissed, and 4,761 cases were still pending in court. A total of 5,058 cases were still under investigations.

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The African Institute for Investigative Journalism pitches for collaboration at the AIIJ Conference 2021

The African Institute for Investigative Journalism pitches for collaboration at the AIIJ Conference 2021

By Rahim Nwali.
Investigative journalists from across Africa and beyond gathered in different cities across the continent to take part in this year’s investigative journalism conference. The conference organized by Witz University attracted over 1,000 delegates including journalists, academicians, donors, entrepreneurs, media organization to say the least. The hybrid
conference included both online and physical meeting sessions in Abuja Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dakar, Senegal and Johannesburg, South Africa. The African institute for Investigative Journalism is proud to have been a part of the conference participating in two panel session. The Executive Director Solomon Serwanjja hosted a panel discussion on government driven mis/disinformation and social conflict in Africa.

The panelists including the Senior investigations manager for CODE FOR AFRICA Alan Cheboi, Peris Gachachi from Africa Uncensored and Kevin Rubio from the DT-Institute discussed in detail the role of collaboration in fighting against mis/disinformation online. The panel used a case study of the mis/disinformation which was displayed during Uganda’s elections as a baseline. Through collaboration with the CODE FOR AFRICA, Africa Uncensored, the team did an online data analysis which showed coordinated inauthentic behavior in Uganda’s elections. They later on raised a red flag to Facebook which conducted further investigations, later on closing over 30 accounts belonging to those who were pushing the agenda of president Yoweri Museveni.
The panel concluded that collaboration between tech companies and data companies with media organization cannot be over emphasized.
The Executive Director also spoke during a panel session that discussed investigating corruption and the power of collaboration. The panel which also comprised of investigative Journalists Dominic Wabala was moderated by Mary Mwendwa, the investigations editor for Talk Africa. The panel discussed the challenges in investigating corruption, the role of collaboration in executing transborder investigation and the need for credibility. The panel concluded with the discussion on safety and security of journalists who are investigating such cases. The three-day conference ended on Wednesday 13 th October 2021. A special thank you to Witz University, the partners and the sponsors of the conference who made this conference happen.

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EXPOSING THE LOOPHOLES IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM OF UGANDA


By Grace Birungi.
Defilement cases are on the rise in Uganda despite the presence of laws. The report indicates that a total of 14,134 cases of Defilements were reported to Police compared to 13,613 cases reported in 2019, giving an increase of 3.8%. Of the cases of Defilement reported in 2020, 10,413 were defilement while 3,721 were Aggravated Defilement.
A total of 5,058 cases were still under investigations. 5,943 suspects of defilement were arrested and charged to Court, out of whom, 845 were convicted while 4,907 were still awaiting trial in the period under review.
Against this background, the African Institute for Investigative journalism embarked on an investigation for close to six months on a story of a 13-year-old girl who was defiled by her father but didn’t get the justice she deserved. After all the investigations, a documentary titled “Defiled by my father” was launched on the 7 th October 2021 online to reveal what happened.
The launch was graced by the Danish ambassador, Nicolas. A. Hejberg Peterson, the mother of the victim Nakawesi, her brother, and some journalists from different media houses who came at the institute to watch the documentary.
The 1-hour documentary is a quest for justice story of a desperate mother seeking justice for her 13- year-old girl, who was allegedly defiled by her father and didn’t get justice because the victim was released even with clear evidence available.

It takes a deep dive into the sexual assault cases in the country and why very many people who commit such atrocities sometimes never make it to court. The documentary highlights how people at the grass root level never get justice because of the syndicated corruption along the justice system.
The corruption starts from the first part of the justice journey which is, the investigations level. If the investigations officer is corrupted, they will put up a weak report that they submit to the Directorate of Public Prosecution and therefore the director will not find enough evidence to prosecute the case, this mounts to the closure of the case and the criminal released from police.
Many of these sexual assault cases don’t make it up to court because the perpetrators of these crimes bribe the police officers and therefore, this investigation is supposed to be impactful and start conversations around access to justice and highlight corruption along the justice value chain.

CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

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“A Journalism that sees newsrooms as partners rather than competitors”

The maiden Investigative Journalism Conference Uganda 2020 launched on Thursday, 22nd October, with panelists strongly calling on media houses and news rooms to partner in the search for truth.

This year’s conference was aired and streamed LIVE on NBS TV deliberating on the state of investigative journalism in Uganda whilst highlighting the past, present, future, opportunities and challenges of investigative story telling.

The conversation was moderated by Solomon Serwanjja, the Executive Director of the African Institute of Investigative Journalism; speaking to Uganda’s renowned and seasoned journalism scholars and practitioners; Prof. Monica Chibita- Dean, Faculty of Journalism, Media and communication at Uganda Christian University (UCU), Dr. Peter Mwesige- Executive Director at African Center for Media Excellence,  Andrew Mwenda- Chief Executive Officer, The Independent magazine, Emmanuel Mutaizibwa- Investigative Journalist with the National Media Ground and Dalton Kawesa- Chief News Editor, Next Media Service.

Opening the conversation was the Deputy Executive Director of the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ), Raymond Mujuni who gave the preamble of the discussion on the state of investigative journalism. “We are exceptionally delighted to host you today to the first ever investigative journalism conference under the theme “state of Investigative journalism in Uganda”. As an institute founded and niched in the ideas of investigative reporting, seeing, in this room, a host of professionals on whose blood, sweat and tears the rostrum of Uganda’s journalism shines bright, we can only be proud and exceptionally humbled that you accepted our invitation”

Before the panel discussion, a keynote address was given by Nation Media Group’s Public Editor, Charles Odoobo Bichachi who commended the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) for reviving the spirit of Investigative Journalism and bringing back the golden days. Bichachi also called upon newsrooms to reflect and evaluate on some of Journalism’s fundamental values: passion, curiosity, initiative, logical thinking, discipline, flexibility, good writing skills, ethics, fairness, broad knowledge of issues, time and resources to better investigative journalism as a form of journalism.

While speaking on the impact of emerging new technologies and digital space on investigative journalism, the founder of the Independent Magazine and veteran investigative journalist, Andrew Mwenda advised and cautioned journalists to adopt and adapt to the ever evolving audience and technologies. “The traditional media have got to create information that is short and sharp because people have a short attention span. We need to rethink how to do investigative journalism that is quick, sharp, and short” said Andrew

Nation Media Group’s investigative journalist Emmanuel Mutaizibwa, enthusiastically called upon newsrooms and media owners to see themselves as partners not as competitors in investigative reporting.  “We should not look at journalism as competition. We need to encourage collaborative journalism. That’s the only way we are going to improve investigative journalism.”

Professor Monica Chibita who serves as the Dean, Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication at Uganda Christian University (UCU) highlighted the big gap between the newsroom and classrooms strongly noting that “There is a huge gap between the two: newsroom and classroom since most of the lecturers like me have never been to newsrooms and yet we are training journalists.” 

Dr. Peter Mwesige of African Centre for Media Excellency (ACME) warned and highlighted the impact of media ownership. “Very many media owners don’t care about the public interest mission of journalism. They are in it for prestige or for political gains or for money.” He said.

Addressing the dropping quality of investigative stories in newsrooms, Dalton Kawesa- Chief News Editor, Next Media Services called for a paradigm shift by media owners and newsroom editors so as to give more space and time to investigative journalism. 

“If only media owners can know that Investigative journalism can convert viewers and improve circulation numbers therefore attracting advertisers. When you do an impactful investigative report and many watch it, you will convert viewers in broadcast and also increase the number of circulation in print.” Dalton said.

Dalton urged media owners to rethink and give a place for this impactful form of journalism.

While wrapping up the conversation, the Executive Director of the African Institute for Investigative Journalism, Solomon Serwanjja stressed the commitment of the institute towards equipping and empowering journalists with skills, knowledge and resources to go beyond the headlines and report investigations that are going to go for public resource accountability, social justice and question people in power.

“What we will be focusing on in the next months, will be the focus on training and capacity building, collaborative reporting, provide and source funding for impactful investigative stories and also provide legal support for investigative journalists.” He said.

Watch the full discussion here