Uganda: Continued harassment and arbitrary arrest of journalists must end

ARTICLE 19 is concerned by the deteriorating situation in Uganda for journalists and for supporters of the opposition lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu  (popularly known as Bobi Wine).

On Thursday (20th September) over 100 Ugandans and at least nine journalists were arrested having been accused of participating in allegedly unlawful protests.  The journalists were arrested for reporting on the return from the US of Ssentamu and have had their cameras, recorders and mobile phones confiscated by police.

The arrests are part of an intense and sustained attack on freedom of speech and assembly by the government.

The journalists were questioned for over four hours by police on allegations that they breached “set security guidelines”. They include Diana Kibuuka of CBS FM, Eve Mugganga of Daily Monitor/Radio One, Henry Lubulwa of URN, Joel Senyonyi NTV,  Moses Kyeyune and Sirajje Kiberu both of Kingdom TV, Sematimba Bwejjire of RadioSimba, Charles Katabalwa of Radio Sapientia and Luwumba Johson of New Vision.

Earlier in the day, before the arrests  the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) stormed Radio Sapientia’ based in Nsambya during the broadcast of a mid-morning radio program called Ekitanganza.

The programme hosted by Richard Lubwama was accused commenting on the return of Bobi Wine from the US where he had been receiving treatment after he was tortured by government security agencies in Arua, Uganda last August.

The UCC also banned all live coverage of the return of Ssentamu and threatened to revoke licences to any media house that chose to ignore the order on 19 September ahead of the legislator’s return in Uganda.

Henry Mania, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa has made a direct plea to the Ugandan authorities.

We request the immediate and unconditional release of the protesters who were arrested for exercising their right to assembly, and an immediate end to attacks on media workers.  Journalists must be allowed to do their work without intimidation and harassment and we ask the police to end the assaults and harassment and abide by the constitution and laws regarding freedom of expression in Uganda.”

Only last month, several journalists, among them Juma Kiirya, Herbert Zziwa, Ronald Muwanga, Ronald Galiwango (all from NTV), Julius Bakabaage (NBS), James Akena (Reuters), Samuel Kyambadde (Metro FM) and another one identified as Richard from Ghetto TV and their driver were arrested while reporting on the death of opposition member of Parliament Bobi Wine’s driver in Arua town.

For more information:

Contact Henry Mania, Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa at [email protected] or on +254 727 862230