The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and of its members, the Human Rights Network for Journalists, Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), have protested against violations of freedom of expression and assembly in Uganda.
In a letter dated June 6, 2013 to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the IFEX members pointed out its concern, particularly about the beating and arrest of the Coordinator and Chair of an IFEX member organisation – the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda). The Ugandan Police arrested HRNJ-Uganda’s National Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala, during protests about media closures in Uganda on May 28, 2013.
IFEX in a joint letter with HRNJ-Uganda, described how the HRNJ-Uganda’s National Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala, was arrested alongside two other journalists, Mulindwa Mukasa and William Ntege. The letter also said that Ssebagala was freed shortly after and the other two were subsequently released on bail, having been charged with “incitement to violence.”
The group pointed out how on May 28, 2013 the police violently dispersed a crowd of journalists and activists who had camped outside the Monitor Publications Limited, whose offices have been taken over by police despite a court order for the police to vacate the premises.
The joint letter said “In addition to those arrested, other journalists suffered injuries as a result of the brutality, including a foreign journalist who was hit with a baton on her left eye. Other journalists injured include Bahati Remmy of NBS television and Sudhir Byaruhanga of NTV (a sister media house to The Daily Monitor), among others.
The group said that “The journalists led by HRNJ-Uganda had walked to the Namuwongo area of Kampala on the morning of 28 May 2013 and camped outside the Monitor offices to show solidarity and demand that the government re-open the Daily Monitor, Dembe FM, K-FM and Red Pepper.
These media outlets were raided and shut down on 20 May by security forces, who were searching for a controversial letter authored by the coordinator of security services about an alleged presidential succession plot”.
IFEX and the HRNJ network urged the president in the letter to investigate the pattern of police violence and hold those responsible accountable; drop charges of “incitement to violence” against journalists Mulindwa Mukasa and William Ntege; and uphold the principles of the resolution supporting a press freedom campaign that was launched at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in May 2013, which was supported by Uganda.