The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned of a campaign of intimidation in Uganda after the arrest and detention on 11 January 2011 of Mustapha Mugisa, editor and publisher of the Review magazine Summit Business for allegedly publishing a cartoon of President Yoweri Museveni in October 2010.
“This arrest constitutes a serious violation of freedom of expression which is a fundamental right enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “We have reason to believe there is a deliberate campaign to intimidate journalists, especially with the approach of the elections scheduled next March.”
According to the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), an IFJ affiliate, Mugisha was arrested and held for over four hours before being released by police officers who later on picked up his co-director, Dr. Samuel Ssejjaaka over a cartoon published in the paper issue of October 2010 with a heading: “Uganda at 48. Museveni at 24. Where next?”
Mugisha was whisked away from his offices after recording a police statement, to the Central Police Station in capital Kampala where he was held for over four hours while being interviewed by the station’s boss. His laptop was also confiscated.
“We wonder whether this sort of expression can be interpreted as a crime by overzealous security agents and authorities who do not want to give press freedom a chance. This is primitive and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. We cannot tolerate such barbaric behavior that is aiming at muzzling the media while at the same time we pretend to embrace democracy,” said EAJA Secretary-general, Omar Faruk Osman.
This year, Uganda was one of the countries under spotlight because of multiples violations of press freedom and freedom of expression. It is feared that this situation may increase as the next elections approach.
The IFJ calls Ugandan authorities to respect press freedom and refrain from interfering in media affairs.
For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide