Nairobi, September 20, 2018–Police in Uganda detained at least eight journalists covering the return of opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, from the U.S, according to media reports and local journalists. The arrests are the latest incident of Ugandan security personnel assaulting, harassing, or arresting journalists covering political tension in the past month, often connected to Kyagulanyi and his supporters.
“These detentions and the unrelenting crackdown on press freedom are making Uganda a hostile environment for journalists,” said CPJ Sub Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “Uganda’s security personnel should stop treating journalism like a crime and ensure that the press can work without fear of harassment or retaliation.”
Police arrested at least six of the journalists at Entebbe International Airport, detained them for about four hours, and confiscated their equipment, Henry Lubulwa, a journalist from Uganda Radio Network who was among those arrested, told CPJ. Lubulwa, who is also the secretary general of the press rights group Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, identified the other journalists as Diana Kibuuka from CBS Radio, Eve Muganga from Daily Monitor, Charles Katabalwa from Radio Sapientia, Luwamba Julius from New Vision, and Emmanuel Nkata, from Prime Radio. Sirajje Kiberu, with the privately owned KTV, said in a Facebook post that he was arrested on his way to the airport. Sematimba Bwejjire, of the privately owned Radio Simba, told CPJ that he was reporting near the airport when police officers confiscated his phone, and held him for about two hours. All were released without charge.
In a statement today on the return of Kyagulanyi, Uganda police spokesperson Emilian Kayima denied that “media personalities” were arrested. Kayima said that “some were questioned in accordance with the set guidelines.”