The Independent Online Journalists Association-Uganda (indoja-U), the umbrella body of online journalists in Uganda has condemned the wrongful arrest of city journalist, Ronald Nahabwe (pictured), a Co-Director of The Capital Times, an online media outlet in Uganda.
In a statement dated June25, 2020, Andrew Irumba, the Indoja-U President said: “.. We therefore demand for the unconditional release of Ronald Nahabwe or his production before a competent court by close of business today Thursday June 25, 2020. All security agencies are also encouraged to observe the rights and freedoms of journalists in Uganda.”
Below is Indoja-U’s full statement;
The Independent Online Journalists Association-Uganda (indoja-U) has learnt about the illegal arrest, torture and detention of Ronald Nahabwe, a seasoned journalist and Co-Director of The Capital Times, an online media outlet in Uganda.
Nahabwe presented himself before the Director CIID AIGP Grace Akullo on Monday morning after weeks of witch-huntby plain clothed security operatives reportedly on orders of CIID director, to answer queries related to Rural Electrification Agency (REA) stories that have been running on their website.
Prior to his arrest on Monday, his colleague Hannington Mbabazi had also been picked up from his home in Nateete at around 8pm by plain-clothed operatives, who later handed him over to three men donned in UPDF army uniforms, who were waiting outside his gate.
They later whisked him away to Kyengera ‘Safe House’, tortured him the whole night and later dropped him at CIID Kibuli in the wee hours of Sunday, the next day.
While under their custody, they allegedly asked him to reveal the source of the stories about REA in exchange for his release, which he declined, and this further attracted more torture.
The arrest of Nahabwe was also linked to the same, but while at CIID Kibuli, express instructions apparently came from State House that now demanded him (Nahabwe) to reveal his State House sources that could have leaked Arch Bishop Kizito Lwanga’s private letter to the president, to the extent that media got it before him (President).
It’s at that point that Akullo handed him over to other operatives. Of course, as journalists we’re protected by the law not to reveal our sources unless, through a court order.
Some of the websites that had run Arch Bishop Kizito Lwanga’s story were reportedly ordered by UCC to delete them, and those who declined have since been switched off.
indoja-U, an association that brings together online media takes this as a serious attack on the independence of media and freedom of expression, not only for the media fraternity, but the general public, because journalists are also part and parcel of the general public, but with a very pivotal social contract of collecting, filtering and feeding information to the population, for the greater good.
Because we know that an informed society is an empowered society.
We therefore demand for the unconditional release of Ronald Nahabwe or his production before a competent court by close of business today Thursday June 25, 2020.
All security agencies are also encouraged to observe the rights and freedoms of journalists in Uganda.