Kampala, 19th/February/2018; Vision Group journalist, Charles Etukuri has been released from detention soon after the High Court in Kampala had ordered the Director Internal Security Organisation Col. Kaka Bagyenda and the Security Minister Lt. General Henry Tumukunde to produce him in court on the 26th February 2018 at mid-day without fail.
The journalist was unexpectedly brought back to the New Vision offices in Industrial Area Monday evening (Feb 19th, 2018) by security operatives. Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that the operatives were instructed to bring the journalist up-to the New Vision premises.
Vision Group Lawyer Tony Kirabira confirmed to HRNJ-Uganda that Etukuri was brought back by security operatives. It is not clear whether he was tortured or charged during his incommunicado detention.
“Having heard counsel for the applicant for the writ of habeas corpus, I therefore order that the applicant be produced in court on 26th February 2018 at noon,” said Justice Lydia Mugambe in her ruling at the High Court earlier in the day.
This was after Vision Group’s lawyer Tony Kirabira applied for orders to produce Etukuri in court. “We pray that a writ of habeas corpus be issued against the Director of Internal Security Organisation and the Minister of Security General Henry Tumukunde to produce the applicant in this honorable court and show cause why the applicant should not be released,” Kirabira asked court.
On 13th February 2018, Etukuri was abducted at the New Vision offices by men dressed in military attire and has since been detained incommunicado beyond 48 hours without accessing his family or lawyer.
Kirabira told court that the continued detention of Etukuri was a deliberate attempt not only to infringe on his personal liberty but also to curtail freedom of the press and the media.
According to the New Vision, Etukuri went missing on 13th February 2018 at about 2:00pm when he was picked by Internal Security Operatives at the Vision Group offices. His attempt to resist arrest proved futile as the security operatives overpowered him and whisked him away in a white double cabin pick-up truck that had six occupants, five in military attire and one in civilian clothes. The said car had reportedly parked near the Vision Group offices by 10:00 am.
It is suspected that his arrest was in relation to stories that he published on Saturday 10th and 11th February 2018 about the demise of Finnish National who died at the Pearl of Africa Hotel in Kampala. The story indicated that senior army officers were involved in the murder.
“It is sad that we have to first run to court for orders to release arrested journalists who are being persecuted because of their work just like the case was with the Investigator’s Stanley Ndawula. These tactics are designed to create fear within the media fraternity from writing about voices of dissent and abuse of office. This affront to media freedom must be condemned collectively by the media, the various leaders and the general public.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala