UJA condemns detention of two journalists, demands immediate release

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UJA condemns detention of two journalists, demands immediate release
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The Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) has condemned the ongoing detention of two journalists, Arirabaki Sengooba and Dickson Mubiru, from Grape Vine Publications and Ono Bwiino Newspaper.

The journalists were arrested on June 18, 2024, and have been held at Kampala Central Police Station since.

UJA spokesperson Ronald Kabuye expressed disapproval of the police’s actions.

"We strongly protest the continued detention of journalists Arirabaki Sengooba and Dickson Mubiru of the Grape Vine Publications and Ono Bwiino Newspaper who were arrested on Tuesday 18 June 2024 and detained at Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) while in line of duty."

The arrests are linked to two news stories: one involving a dispute between lawyer Steven Kalali and High Court Judge Alexandra Nkonge Rugadya, and another implicating the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) in corruption scandals in Parliament.

Following their arrest, police searched their offices in Kampala Central Division and confiscated their work tools, including laptop computers and phones.

"It has since then come to our knowledge that the detainees have been put under serious grilling to disclose sources of their stories which is journalistically unethical, unprofessional and unacceptable," Kabuye said.

Kabuye emphasised the fundamental role of press freedom in a democratic society, stating, "Press freedom as a cornerstone to the growth of democracy in any society like Uganda includes freedom of expression that should be protected by the state and non-state actors as opposed to imposing limitations against the same."

The UJA is demanding the immediate release of the journalists, citing constitutional violations.

"We therefore, request for unconditional release of the journalists since they have spent 2 days in Police detention without being produced before Court, hence violation of the 48-hour rule by the Constitution," Kabuye said.

The association has vowed to defend the journalists' rights until they are freed.

"In any case, UJA is determined to defend the detainees' rights and freedoms until they regain their freedom," Kabuye affirmed.

The Deputy Spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Police, Luke Owoyesigire, told the Nile Post that the two journalists are accused of making defamatory statements and will be taken to court.

He noted that today marks 48 hours since their detention. However, he was unsure when they will appear in court.

This incident raises serious concerns about the state of press freedom and the treatment of journalists in Uganda, highlighting the ongoing struggle for free and independent journalism in the country.

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