The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned in the strongest terms possible the arbitrary arrest of the Vice – President of the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), Osman Draga, by the Arua District Police Commander, on Tuesday, 9 January in relation to some comments he made on facebook. The Federation asks for his immediate release.
According to a statement issued on 9 January by the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), an IFJ affiliate, Draga is detained at the Arua Central Police Command following a complaint made by deputy, Rose Ayala, who alleged charges of “offensive communication” against Osman Draga on his facebook account.
The President of the UJU, Lucy Anyango Ekadu condemned the arrest of Draga and said that the arrest is a systematic move aimed at intimidating journalists in the district. She called on the police to release Osman Draga unconditionally and to respect the fundamental principles that guarantee freedom of expression in Uganda as enshrined in Article 29 of the Constitution.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said that “it is not acceptable for journalists to be arrested simply because of the comments that they make on social media”. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right which must be respected by all and sundry. Democratic governments must endeavour to protect this right while at the same time ensuring that citizens are not intimidated and harassed by politicians or people holding influential positions when they express their opinions”.
The IFJ joins its affiliate the Uganda Union of Journalists and demand for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Osman Draga and calls on the authorities in Uganda to respect the rights of its citizens.