Court in Makindye has charged a journalist, Moses Bwayo, with an Unlawful assembly

Moses Bwayo (centre) stands in the dock at the Makindye Magistrate Court. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Kampala, 05th March 2020: Bwayo, aged 30years, a resident of Upper Kisugu, Makindye Division in Kampala district appeared before Grade 1 Magistrate Jude Okumu Wednesday afternoon and charged with unlawful assembly along with eight others.

The prosecution alleges that on the 24th February 2020, at Nsambya Police Barracks in Makindye Division, Kampala district, Bwayo along with eight others, unlawfully assembled at Nsambya House conducting a video shooting covering the Nsambya Police/UPDF barracks, singing song subverting or promoting subversion of the government.

Bwayo was arrested on Monday 24th Feb, while shooting a music video at Nsambya along with eight others and detained at Kabalagala police station. They were released on bond on 26 Feb. His two cameras were confiscated and retained by the police. The other co-accused include Ssengendo Shafik, Kagabane Josca, Nakamya Mayumunah, Rukundo Shaphra, Namlongo Lillian Najja, Nakayiza Juliet, Namuli Rose, and Gashumba Emmanuel. The prosecution claims that there are others who are still at large.

Bwayo couldn’t be released on bail applied through his lawyer Caleb Alaka because the State Attorney Jacqueline Akao claimed that she did not have the case file as it was still with the police and therefore she couldn’t respond to his application. Either other were not allowed to apply for bail when the Magistrate said time was not enough thereby remanding them till Friday 6th March 2020.

Bwayo is under contract with a UK-based production company Southern Films to film a long-term documentary about Bobi Wine, the Kyaddondo East Member of Parliament, who has also declared his intentions to stand for president in 2021 under the People Power movement.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda has condemned the arrest describing it as the criminalization of coverage of the opposition groups which is contrary to independent journalism.

“We believe that the charges of unlawful assembly brought against Bwayo for covering an opposition group are misplaced, only intended to dissuade Journalists from covering the opposition as we head deep into the presidential elections due in 2021.” Said the Executive Director of HRNJ-UGANDA, Robert Ssempala.

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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