Masaka, 2nd/Dec/2011: Masaka prison warders have arrested and briefly detained four journalists for photographing the poor conditions and the dire state of the prisons.
The four journalists arrested include; Margaret Kayondo – Ssuubi fm correspondent in Masaka, Lubuuka Ali Ggoloba and Ezekeri Ssekweyama both working with Masaka based radio Buddu and Hanifah Namuwonge working for Bukedde a Luganda paper.
The four journalists had been invited by the Southern Buganda regional Prisons Officer Julius Asiimwe to cover the World Aids Day celebrations that were marked at Masaka prison on 1st/Dec/2011.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has leant that the Officer in Charge (O/C) Masaka prison, Simon Wansadha ordered the arrest of the journalists after they took photos of the interiors of one ward whose hygiene was in dire state and sick inmates who were allegedly not treated among others.
The journalists were part of a group that toured the prison led by Irish Ambassador Anne Webster who was the chief guest.
Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that when the journalists were moving out of the prison premises, prison warders arrested them on the orders of O/C Wansadha, and detained them all in one room and their cameras were confiscated.
Namuwonge one of the victims told HRNJ-Uganda that male prison warders wanted to mount a search on them but they insisted demanding for fellow women wardens adding that even their hand bags were confiscated.
“We were released after one hour of unlawful detention but our cameras were missing. Upon release we stormed O/C Wansadha demanding for our cameras and an explanation for detaining us. He later returned our cameras with some photos erased” Said Namuwonge
She added that they want to see O/C Wansadha and his team apprehended for their wrong deeds.
HRNJ-Uganda contacted O/C Wansadha to get his side of the story but he denied knowledge of harassing journalists.
“Such actions are the sole reason why freedom of expression and the press continue to be undermined in Uganda and there’s a need to deal with it straight way. It’s very clear that O/C Wansadha over stepped his mandate and the only way to fight this kind of impunity therefore is to hold him in his individual capacity liable for his wrong deeds.
HRNJ-Uganda has taken up the matter through its lawyers who will ensure that O/C Wansadha is punished.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627