Entebbe, 05th October 2023; Over fourteen (14) journalists have been arrested while covering the return of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) President, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine in the country. A number of others were beaten, and their gadgets including phones and cameras were also confiscated in a military-led operation at Katabi along Entebbe Road and Mpererwe in Kampala.
Some of the arrested journalists include Joseph Balikuddembe (CBS), Julius Kitone (NBS TV), Isano Francis (NBS TV), Jjengo Eria (Baba TV), Yiga Nasser (Baba TV), Musana Robert (Nexus Media), Richard Olwenyi (NBS TV), Kyambadde Emma (Lujjuliro Online), David Tamale (Bukedde Tv), Mugenyi Ronald, Swaburah Owomukisa, Kenneth Kaweesa (NBS TV), Moses Katumba (NBS TV) and Mariam Nagadya (Baba TV) among others
The journalists arrested at both Mpererwe and Katabi were later taken to Entebbe Police Station from where some recorded statements, though the charges remained unclear to them.
The arrest was designed to block all journalists from covering a procession of NUP supporters from Entebbe Airport to Kyagulanyi’s home at Magere by way of welcoming him back from South Africa. The journalists that the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) spoke to, described it as “a preventive arrest” meant to prevent all journalists from doing their work. Kyagulanyi was arrested upon his arrival at Entebbe International Airport and driven to his home by the security forces.
Some of the beaten journalists told HRNJ-Uganda how they were targeted. “I was dragged from our NBS TV branded van by two military men who were all hooded and masked, they grabbed and took away the video camera,” said Kenneth Kaweesa. Richard Olwenyi said, “I was hit on the head by the military but was helped by the fact that I had a protective gear, otherwise we would all be bleeding now. They took away my phone.”
Another journalist, Joseph Balikuddembe said he sustained injuries on the head and the left eye and unfortunately, the military men were all masked and it was hard to identify them, they had no name tags. They were all disguising their identity.
“We call on the security forces to return all confiscated gadgets and drop all charges preferred against all journalists. It is common in Uganda to target journalists covering events of the opposition politicians. This has made the work of the media difficult thus eroding away media freedom, and critical and independent journalism. The security must desist from targeting journalists on duty and instead ensure their safety and security. We urge all media houses to provide their journalists with protective gears to safeguard them in such cases of confrontation.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director Robert Ssempala.