KAMPALA – Diplomats from the European Union, United States and 14 other countries have expressed concern about the Uganda government’s increasing clampdown on media freedoms and protests after the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
In a joint statement issued on Friday, May 3, the diplomats said the threats to journalists and excessive use of force against Bobi Wine and his supporters do not reflect the respect of human rights enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda.
“We are deeply concerned with a series of recent incidents restricting the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Uganda,” the joint statement from the missions reads in part.
“We are also concerned about the excessive use of force by Ugandan police and security services against peaceful protesters and political opposition,” the statement adds.
The statement came after the Uganda Communications Commission called on 13 radio and TV stations to suspend their news editors, producers and heads of programming over their coverage of Bobi Wine’s arrest on Monday.
Bobi Wine was detained for allegedly staging an illegal protest in 2018 — charges fellow opposition MPs decried as ridiculous.
He was freed on bail on Thursday, May 2.
Since expressing an intention to stand against President Museveni, the authorities have frustrated Bobi Wine’s efforts to hold concerts at his private beach, and have detained him repeatedly for procedural misdemeanours.
His detention prompted protests in Kampala that were broken up by police with teargas and rubber bullets.
The directive calling for the sacking of top media officials caused outrage in the country.
On Friday May 3, during celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day, journalists condemned UCC for what they described as an abuse of power.
“In total, over 30 journalists are on the verge of losing their jobs,” the Uganda Journalists Association said in a statement Thursday.
“Government through its several agencies should respect the rights of media practitioners.”
Amnesty International said the order was a “blatant attack on press freedom”