Uganda: Seven Scribes Arrested Over Covering Besigye, Yellow Pigs

By Andrew Bagala

Kampala - Police have arrested seven reporters who were covering the arrest of Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate Kizza Besigye at his home in Kasangati, Wakiso District, and the dumping of yellow pigs at State House in Kampala District yesterday.

Five journalists arrested at Dr Besigye's home are NBS TV's Dean Lubowa and Mr Elijah Turyagumanawe, BBS TV's Mr Stephen Kiwanuka and two others. They were later released without any charge.

The two reporters arrested near State House Nakasero in Kampala City are Mr Abubaker Muwonge of CCTV and Mr Francis Ociti of Red Pepper newspaper. The reporters were covering piglets dressed in yellow T-shirts that had been dropped by protesting youth at State House.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said the journalists were arrested at Dr Besigye's home because they were acting like opposition politicians. "Some journalists have deviated from their journalism ethics. They have started acting as opposition politicians," Mr Enanga said yesterday.

He didn't mention the offences the journalists had committed. This is the second time journalists have been arrested at Dr Besigye's home in three days. The number of journalists arrested is the biggest since the Walk-to-work demonstrations in 2011.

Dr Besigye has been under house arrest since February 18, presidential elections, which observers said were massed with irregularities.

Security agencies have been restricting diplomats, opposition leaders, journalists and his lawyers from accessing him.

On Saturday, five journalists, including Daily Monitor reporters Mr Eriasa Mukiibi and Mr Abubaker Lubowa, were arrested by police at Dr Besigye's home. They were later released without a charge.

On the arrest of two journalists at State House, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Mr Patrick Onyango, said the journalists were being held on charges of criminal trespass in a restricted area.

"They were arrested by State House officials after they trespassed on the restricted property. We are obtaining their statements and then determine the way forward," Mr Onyango said.

Police want journalists to reveal the source who informed them about the dropping of the piglets at State House. Both journalists declined to reveal their source. By press time, police had released Mr Ociti but detained Mr Muwonge.

Mr Robert Ssempala, the national coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda, termed the arrests as a measure by security agencies to curtail journalists from reporting critical views.

"There is no justification to arrest journalists doing their work to get all sides of the story," Mr Ssempala said.

Source: All Africa

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