KAMPALA – African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) has called for immediate release and unconditional release of journalist and filmmaker Moses Bwayo who was remanded to Luzira State Penitentiary for filming a presidential hopeful, Bobi Wine better known as Robert Kyagulanyi.
The freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker Bwayo, who was under a contract with a UK-based production company, Southern Films, was arrested late last month in Nsambya, a Kampala near the capital while documenting Bobi Wine who was recording a music video.
“We urge police to maintain an environment where journalists and Ugandans generally can carry on their work without intimidation and harassment,” said Dr. Peter G. Mwesige, the executive director of ACME.
He added: “The continued clampdown on freedom of expression and of the media only undermines our young and fragile democracy.”
The Daily Monitor on Thursday, February 27, 2020, reported that the video cameras he was using were also impounded by police.
Mr. Buwayo was initially released on a police bond. He was produced in court on March 4, 2020, with eight others to answer to charges of illegal assembly only for the group to be sent to prison on remand. The group is expected to return to court on 6 March for a decision on bail.
Mr Patrick Onyango, the police spokesperson for the Kampala Metropolitan Area, told reporters that the journalist and his group were shooting a music video in the middle of the road, a move he said caused the heavy traffic jam.
“They were inconveniencing the residents as they moved in the middle of the road without police guidance or clearance. The area DPC called them and because they were big in number, some fled but the police managed to arrest 10 of them,” Mr. Onyango.
Several other civil rights groups and organizations as well as members of the media have spoken out against Bwayo’s arrest and demanded that he be released immediately. Part of a statement released by Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU), reads as follows:
“The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU) calls for the immediate release of journalist Moses Bwayo who was sent to Luzira Prison on Wednesday…Moses’ lawyer was able to present the court with all the guarantees required by the law in order to be released on bail…Moses is due to appear at Makindye Magistrates’ Court at 9 am Friday 6 March 2020. FCAU urges supporters of press freedom to attend the hearing to monitor developments…Independent journalism is a vital part of a free society and Ugandan authorities must not criminalise journalists reporting on opposition political groups.”