Addis Ababa, May 2, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Uganda’s media regulator to immediately rescind an order yesterday suspending staff from 13 radio and television stations in connection to their coverage of opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine.
“This order to suspend journalists from working is a transparent retaliation against stations that covered a critical opposition figure. That Ugandan authorities made this move immediately before World Press Freedom Day communicates a casual disregard for the rights of journalists to report freely and the right of citizens to know,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “This order should be immediately lifted and the stations should be allowed to operate without interference.”
In a statement published on its website, the Uganda Communications Commission directed the six television stations and seven radio stations to suspend their producers and heads of news and programs, alleging they breached standards by airing “extremist or anarchic messages” and inciting and misleading content.
The stations ordered to suspend staff are Akaboozi FM, BBS TV, Beat FM, Bukedde TV, Capital FM, CBS FM, KIngdom TV, NBS TV, NTV, Pearl FM, Salt TV, Sapientia FM and Simba FM.
The regulator did not cite specific programming, only asking the stations to submit live bulletins aired on April 29, 2018. However, media reports and a statement issued by the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association indicate that the suspension is likely connected to the airing live of Kyagulanyi’s arrest on April 29.