Military personnel on Monday arrested and reportedly beat Reuters photojournalist James Akena.
BBC Uganda multi-media reporter Catherine Byaruhanga said Akena was reportedly beaten up and detained by Uganda military whilst covering protests in downtown Kampala over the detention of MP Bobi Wine and others.
“Despite the Uganda government’s assurances journalists are still targets as they deal with the fallout from arresting Bobi Wine and his supporters,” she tweeted.
Akena was rushed to Central Police Station [CPS] in Kampala and detained.
His cameras were taken by the military.
“Deployment of masked soldiers on Uganda’s streets always a sign of how serious the state takes the security situation. Indication they are Special Forces. Today, I saw masked and unmasked soldiers as well as plenty of police,” she further tweeted.
Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU), a body that fights for journalists covering Uganda for foreign media organisations, called for the immediate release of their colleague.
“Reuters photojournalist @akena_james is being held without charge at Kampala Central Police Station after being detained for covering street protests. @PoliceUg must #FreeAkena immediately and allow journalists to work without hindrance,” FCAU tweeted.
“We call on the #Uganda|n authorities to immediately release @Reuters photojournalist @akena_james and ensure his safety following reports that he has been beaten up and detailed by soldiers while covering a street protest in central Kampala.”
Minutes later, the body said Akena had been released from custody.
Akena has been a photojournalism for over 20 years and is famed for covering the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] rebel activities in northern Uganda.
NTV journalists arrested
Meanwhile, The Observer journalist Sadab Kitatta reported that NTV Uganda journalists Juma Kiirya and Ronald Galiwango were also arrested and taken to an unknown destination as they covered “Free Bobi Wine” protests in Kampala.
They were later released but forced to delete protests footage.