HRNJ-Uganda alert, Vision Group journalist goes missing, discovered in police detention

Soroti, 15th/May/2014; a Soroti based Vision Group freelance journalist, Felix Osujju is being detained at the Police’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), in Kireka, a Kampala suburb under unclear circumstances. Sources say that he is being held on charges of ‘extortion and threatening violence’.

HRNJ-Uganda’s efforts to establish the circumstances of the arrest and detention have so far yielded no results as police officials were non-committal on the matter. The SIU commandant, Charles Kataratambi declined to comment, and instead asked for more time to be briefed, “I have not been around. I am going to office to pick particulars of this matter. Call me back in 30 minutes,” he told HRNJ-Uganda before he hang-up his phone. Several attempts to get details from him failed as he asked for more time eventually not picking our calls. The police spokesperson, Fred Enanga said he had not been briefed about this case, “I didn’t get a brief; maybe I can find out from SIU.” He told HRNJ-Uganda.

Osujju, an investigative freelance reporter and photojournalist for the New Vision, Etop Newspaper and Etop radio was picked from Soroti by two plain clothed men suspected to be police operatives at around 02:00pm local time on 14th/May/2014 and whisked to Kampala.

“The plain clothed men told me that Felix had a personal problem and so they wanted me to call him to come to office, but I told them to use the local police. Its then that they started shifting goal posts saying it was partly official. When I insisted that they use the local police, they got furious and called me stupid as they went away. Osujju was later arrested with the help of the OC CID Soroti who tricked him to go and ‘cover’ a story.” The Etop Editor, in Soroti James Ekweu told HRNJ-Uganda.
The Vision Group Editor-in-Chief, Barbera Kaija was very concerned with the irregular arrest of the journalist. “The most worrying thing is that they didn’t even allow him to make a statement at the area police; they just put him in the car and drove him all through the night. We kept looking for him in vain. All those claims of extortion and threatening violence are just coming up right now.” She told HRNJ-Uganda

Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that Felix’s arrest was masterminded by the Kasiro County Member of Parliament, Elijah OKupa whom he accuses of writing about his unstable marriage affairs which appeared in a local tabloid.

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. Efforts to talk to Okupa were futile as he could not be located at Parliament and his known telephone was not available.

“The police must release the journalist unconditionally or take him to court urgently, and also explain the circumstances under which he was arrested and whisked away from Soroti in Eastern Uganda to Kampala. Journalists, like other Ugandans have a right to know why they are being arrested and where they are being taken, a procedure that was not observed during Felix’s arrest.” Said HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Robert Ssempala.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Plot 18, Block 12 Stensera Road Kayanja Triangle Zone
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala. Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627
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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.