Media Rights Groups Condemn Torture, Detention of African Journalists

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Rights groups have slammed the growing harassment of the media in countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Some Ugandan journalists who were reporting on protests supporting detained MP Bobi Wine were beaten by soldiers, while in Tanzania, journalist Sitta Tumma was arrested while covering an opposition campaign rally, ahead of a local authority by-election.

Nigerian journalist Jones Abiri was released on July 27, two years after his arrest for allegedly supporting militancy. While Premium Times journalist Samuel Ogundipe was arrested -and later released on bail – for refusing to name his sources in a story about the police.

They were later charged with the “dubious” offence of incitement to violence and malicious damage to property. It was also reported that NBS TV’s John Kibaliza was forcibly arrested and detained in an unknown place.

On Monday, James Akena, a photographer working for the foreign news agency Reuters was beaten by soldiers, arrested and detained for several hours as he covered the #FreeBobiWine political protests in Kampala. His equipment was confiscated. NTV journalists Ronald Galiwango and Juma Kirya as well as Observer photographer Alfred Ochwo were also beaten or roughed up.

“We have also learnt that some journalists have been forced to delete footage from their cameras and phones of soldiers responding to or beating protesters. Some media houses have also been forced not to show images of the political violence unraveling in different parts of the country,” ACME said in a statement.

“When journalists are silenced, society suffers. When freedom of expression is curtailed all other freedoms are threatened and democracy is under threat. The world family of decent nations must not stand by as these sins are committed against journalists. The Uganda government must cease attacks and harassment of journalists, and the East Africa Community, the African Union, the United Nations and other friends of democracy have a duty to help underwrite freedom of expression for the people of Uganda,” the statement concludes.

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