Ugandan Journalist in Police Custody After Filming Bobi Wine Documentary
A court in Kampala has charged journalist and documentary filmmaker Moses Bwayo with illegal assembly.
Journalist and documentary filmmaker Moses Bwayo is being remanded in police custody after a court in Kampala, Uganda, charged him and eight others with illegal assembly.
According to Daily Monitor, the trial magistrate declined to handle Bwayo's bail application allegedly due to time constraints and instead adjourned the matter for the following day. Bwayo is currently being held at Luzira Prison, a maximum-security prison in the capital city.
Bwayo was initially arrested on February 24th while he was filming a documentary of musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine for the UK-based company, Southern Films. He was then released two days later on police bond and set to appear before the court at a later date. Today, the Ugandan court has officially charged him with illegal assembly near police barracks and singing songs that are deemed to be "subverting or promoting subversion of the government of Uganda".
Several civil rights groups and organisations 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 9am 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."
The heavy crackdown on journalists, public figures and activists who express any political dissent under President Yoweri Museveni's regime continues. Journalists whose coverage relates to Bobi Wine in particular, have reportedly been under constant attack by the government.
Most recently, activist Stella Nyanzi was released from jail after spending more than a year in prison on charges of "cyber harrassment" of the president following a poem she wrote on Facebook.
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