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Ugandan journalists detained in South Sudan

Two Ugandan journalists, Justin Dralaze and Hilary Ayesiga, have been arrested in Juba, South Sudan. It is not clear as to whether they could be charged or just released.

Uganda's ambassador to South Sudan, Amb. Maj. Gen. Robert Rusoke, told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that the journalists have been in detention since Saturday. “No, they have not yet been released, but we have communicated to the National Security of South Sudan – the people who are holding them – to see that they are released. So we are handling this together with them. Let's hold on and see what happens,” he told HRNJ-Uganda.

Dralaze – a reporter with Reuters international news agency – and Ayesiga, a reporter with NTV Uganda, were reportedly arrested on July 27, 2013 and detained at the National Security headquarters in Juba that evening. They were reportedly arrested as they filmed near key government offices and security facilities. Amb. Rusoke declined to divulge details of the arrest.

Juba has been experiencing a tense political and security situation since President Salva Kiir sacked his Vice President Riek Machar, and the entire Cabinet. There is a high presence of the army on the streets of Juba to enforce a curfew.

Human rights Lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi warned against jeopardizing the security of the detained journalists by making sensitive and desperate statements, “We have no jurisdiction to act on matters within that territory, so we should avoid making statements that are likely to endanger the security of the two journalists.” he told HRNJ-Uganda.

“The Ugandan government should expedite the release of these journalists who have been in detention since last week. We appeal to the South Sudan government to ensure the safety and rights of these journalists are upheld while in detention. They should also be handed over to the Ugandan government on a bi-lateral relations arrangement.” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

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