HRNJ-Uganda alert, Police releases Vision Group journalist, seeks arrest of another

Kireka, 16th/May/2014; the police’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka has charged Felix Osujo, a Vision Group journalist, with ‘computer abuse and demanding money with menaces’ before releasing him on bond, after spending two nights in detention. In another development, the police have instituted investigations into the alleged irregular conduct of the two officers who arrested the journalist, after a complaint was lodged by the Vision Group.

Osujo, an investigative freelance reporter and photojournalist for the New Vision, Etop Newspaper and Etop radio in Soroti, was arrested on 14th/May/2014 in Soroti by plain clothed security agents under mysterious circumstances, and it was alleged that he would be charged with ‘extortion and threatening violence’. The arresting officers allegedly insulted Osujo’s Editor, James Ekweu who they referred to as ‘stupid’ for asking them why they wanted the journalist.

Osujo told HRNJ-Uganda at SIU soon after his release that the officers who arrested him declined to identify themselves and also took away his mobile telephone while traveling to Kampala. “The officers declined to identify themselves when in Soroti. They said they were under instructions to take me. While on the way to Kampala, they took away my telephone and switched it off, since I was constantly receiving calls from concerned friends and relatives.” He said

Charles Kataratambi, the Special Investigations Police boss told the HRNJ-Uganda team at the SIU headquarters in Kireka that the Kasiro County Member of Parliament, Elijah OKupa was the complainant in a matter which he said dates as far back as 2011. Okupa was not available for a comment as he did not show up at SIU from the time Osujo was arrested until his release.

Osujo is scheduled to report back on the 23rd of May 2014 at the SIU offices. HRNJ-Uganda has learnt that another journalist, James Odongo who works with Etop radio based in Soroti is also wanted on similar charges. Police also arrested another person over the same charges who they described as their prime suspect.

Okupa is the second legislator in a space of one week implicated in perpetrating violence against a journalist after Odo Tayebwa who allegedly stormed the studios of BFM radio and assaulted a radio presenter.

“We are glad that Osujo has been released and that the police have instituted investigations into the conduct of the arresting officers. We also appeal to police to always observe the lawful procedure of arrest, where a suspect is informed of his rights.” Said HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala.
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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.