Ugandan opposition leader and singer Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, arrives to address Ugandans in South Africa two days before his October 5 return to Uganda. (Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

CPJ urges Uganda to investigate assaults on journalists covering opposition leader Bobi Wine

Nairobi, October 6, 2023–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for an investigation into reports that Ugandan security personnel assaulted and detained multiple journalists covering the return home of opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine.

At least 14 journalists, who were reporting on Wine’s return to Uganda from an overseas trip on Thursday, were briefly detained and several were also assaulted and had their equipment damaged or confiscated by the officers, according to media reports.

“It is a great shame that Uganda’s security sector repeatedly treat reporting on the political opposition as a criminal offense,” CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo, said on Friday. “Police should drop any pending investigations into journalists arrested while covering Bobi Wine’s return home, investigate reports that security personnel assaulted journalists, and ensure that those responsible are held to account.”

Wine competed against Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni in elections in 2021, and at least 50 people died in protests over the pop star-turned-politician’s arrest ahead of that vote.

After citing security concerns over plans by Wine’s party to hold a one-million strong welcome march, security personnel arrested Wine upon arrival at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport and drove him home, where he said he was being held under house arrest.

Journalists said they were targeted by both police officers and people they believed were military personnel, according to a statement by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda. The Ugandan press freedom group said some journalists recorded statements with the police “though the charges [against them] remained unclear.”