At least four journalists deployed in the North Western district of Arua are said to have been targets of harassment and arbitrary arrests by security agencies following the events that unfolded yesterday.
Some of the journalists currently in police detention include NTV reporter, Herbert Zziwa who was reported missing yesterday. He is being held up at Arua central police station.
Zziwa is said to have disappeared in Arua on Monday while reporting about the happenings which preceded the shooting of a driver of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
The news of his disappearance was first announced by Maurice Ochol also a journalist working with NTV and then the station .
According to Ochol, Zziwa got lost in a scuffle involving reporting on the scene from which MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine)’ driver was shot dead in the car. NTV also reported that another one of their correspondent is also under Police detention.
“We can confirm that our reporter @zziwaherbert and correspondent, Ronald Muwanga are currently detained at Arua Central Police Station. We are engaging the authorities to have them released,” NTV Uganda tweeted on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, it also emerged on Tuesday morning that some other journalists attached to NBS TV including Ben Ongom and Kibalizi John were also taken and their equipment confiscated.
Ongom told NBS that; “Earlier today, while preparing to do a live link for NBS Morning Breeze, SFC and Police parked in front of us. We stood our ground and continued setting up but then they started coming to us with force.”
“They started coming at us with force, pushing us and then grabbing some of the people around. One of our journalists, John Kibalizi was picked and taken to unknown location,” he said.
He said that on Tuesday, somoeone had attempted to get to them (NBS journalists) by using a colleague’s phone. They wanted to confiscate their footage, he said.
Moments later, Sabiti Joseph, another reporter of NBS revealed that Kibalizi and Ongom were safe as they had managed to escape the security operatives.
An earlier report from Robert Ssempala of Human rights network for journalist revealed that after journalists reporting at the scene were targeted by Police. The same report stated that over five journalists went missing and there whereabouts remain unknown.
“We appeal to security agencies to ensure the safety and security on duty. Arresting them, assaulting them and other degrading and inhumane treatment is unacceptable,” Ssempala said.
In this year’s World Press Freedom Index, Uganda dropped five places to emerge in 117th position. The index rates the freedoms of journalists in the different countries world over.
The Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in 180 countries reflects the growing animosity towards the media, openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies.
Last year, Uganda was ranked 112th globally (the least position being countries where the press enjoys its freedoms). However, this year, Uganda has fallen 5 places in the rankings.