Journalists under their umbrella body, Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) have vowed to sue security organs before courts of law for the illegal arrest and detention of a number of journalists in Entebbe.
A couple of reporters were Thursday arrested, intimidated and detained by secirity organs while covering the return of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) in Entebbe and the sorrounding areas.
Bobi Wine, now a popular opposition politician arrived in Uganda on Thursday afternoon from the U.S where he has been for the last few weeks.
Among the journalists arrested was Charles Katabalwa of Radio Saptentia, Siraje Kiberu of Kingdom TV, Eve Muganga of Daily Monitor, Diana Kibuuka of CBS Emanduso, Julius Luwemba of New Vision, Nkata of Prime Radio, Ssematimba Bwegiire of Radio Simba and Lubulwa Henry of URN among others.
It is these arrests that have prompted the association through Ronald Kabuye, the Secretary for Information UJA to demand for the immediate release of the journalists and restoration of confiscated gadgets.
“We condemn the arrest of our members done by security officers because it does not only violate their rights as individuals but also violates the Constitution of our country Uganda that provides for right to access to information,” Kabuye noted in a written statement.
Kabuye said that, “As we continue to engage the appropriate authority to respect our rights, in the mean time, we demand for immediate and unconditional release of all journalists arrested and detained while going about their lawful duty to inform the public”.
“The consficated gadgets should be given back them and they should be allowed to proceed with their work.”
He added that failure to adhere to these demands, “we are going to drag the security organs to courts of law for the continued violation of the journalists rights”.
In addition, the journalists have urged the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to refrain from calling media managers issuing verbal directives stopping them from doing live broadcast of Bobi Wine return or mention of his name in various programs.
“We also demand that such directives should be formally done if indeed they are “lawful” and do not stop the public from enjoying their right of access to information; we continue to condemn such beastly acts against journalists.”
Thursday’s incident comes a month after journalists were brutally beaten up by soldiers of the UPDF in downtown Kampala while they were covering pro-Bobi Wine riots. Since then, security agencies have been heavily criticized for the gross violation of press freedoms.
In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index which assessed about 180 countries world over, Uganda dropped 5 places compared to its ranking in 2017.