ARTICLE 19 condemns the murder of Ibrahim Tusubira, also known as Isma Olaxes, a prominent Ugandan blogger. We urge the authorities to efficiently investigate the case to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
‘We condole with the family of Tusubira at this difficult time. We also stand in solidarity with his friends and co-workers,’ said Mugambi Kiai, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa’s Regional Director.
On 9 May, three days after the blogger’s murder, police arrested three people in connection with the crime. No further information about an investigation has been made public.
Tusubira had been acting chairperson of the Uganda Bloggers Association at the time of his murder. According to media reports, he had expressed concerns for his safety in the weeks preceding his death.
Uganda is ranked 120 out of 161 countries in the 2022 Global Expression Report – ARTICLE 19’s annual review of the state of freedom of expression and the right to information worldwide. The government’s restrictions and assaults on journalists have threatened Uganda’s media freedom in recent years. For instance, on 12 April 2023, Isano Francis and Thomas Kitimbo from Next Media were attacked and pepper-sprayed by police as they dispersed medical intern doctors demonstrating over the delayed commencement of their internship. The following day, Nation Media Group journalist David Awori was injured by Uganda People’s Defence Force officers while covering a confrontation between security officials and suspected smugglers whose goods were impounded at Busia taxi park. The soldiers, attached to the enforcement department of the Uganda Revenue Authority, also confiscated his phones, camera and a bag.
Alternative DigiTalk TV journalists were arrested on 10 February 2022 by people said to be from the military on charges of ‘offensive communication,’ which ARTICLE 19 has argued goes against freedom of expression as outlined under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The previous year, police had beaten up journalists reporting on former presidential aspirant Bobi Wine delivering a petition to the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) offices over human rights violations. In the run-up to, during, and after the general elections in 2021, ARTICLE 19 raised concerns regarding internet shutdowns. Activists such as Stella Nyanzi and Kakwenza Rukirabashaija have been forced into exile after being persecuted for exercising their rights of free expression.
ARTICLE 19 urges the government of Uganda to take all necessary steps to protect journalists, bloggers, and other media professionals. It also must foster an environment where the media and journalists can do their job without being threatened with violence or other forms of intimidation.
For more information, please contact Mugambi Kiai at [email protected], Regional Director for ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.