Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) urges Ugandan government to release Moses Bwayo, an independent journalist Moses Bwayo, contracted by a U.K.-based company, Southern Films, for a documentary film on pop-star musician turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi, (aka) Bobi Wine.
A statement by Director of AMDF, Iliya Kure noted that, Bobi Wine, currently a legislator, is seen as a strong challenger seeking to unseat long-serving President Yoweri Museveni in presidential election early next year.
Information available to AMDF reveals that on Wednesday, a magistrate court in Kampala sent the Mr. Bwayo and eight others to Luzira prison, on charges of ‘unlawful assembly’ near a police barracks in Kampala and singing anti-government songs.
Bwayo was earlier arrested by a team of police and military men on 24th February, while filming the documentary – he was detained for two days and released on 26th February on bond and ordered to report on Wednesday. On his return, he was taken to court, where he was charged and remanded.
His lawyer, Caleb Alaka says he applied for bail, but the magistrate gave ‘deaf ear’ to that and took Bwayo to prison.
Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU) has criticised the moved and described it as move to muzzle the press.
In a statement the group says, “Independent journalism is a vital part of a free society and Ugandan authorities must not criminalise journalists reporting on opposition political groups,” the statement says.
There was no immediate word from the court or government, but Ugandan officials often deny targeting political foes or the media.
Ugandan authorities should allow journalists to carry out their legitimate activities without restriction. Media coverage of the opposition should not be termed criminal activity.
AMDF therefore urges the authority to drop all charges against Mr. Bwayo as far as they relate to this assignment.