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TV journalist detained for four hours, released without charge

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - 18 August 2010 - Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS) television journalist Harrison Thembo was arrested by police at Bwera (Uganda-DR Congo border) for filming activities at the immigration offices.

Thembo was arrested on 16 August at 8:00am while filming the unusual and exasperating process Ugandans and non-Ugandans go through while moving within or entering the country. "This was an unlawful act committed by security personnel in breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which underlines the right to seek, receive and impart information," Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ-Uganda) programmes coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala said.

Since the bomb blasts on 11 July, which resulted in the deaths of over 70 people who were watching the 2010 World Cup final at Kyadondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala, a suburb of Kampala, security apparatus have arrested hundreds of Ugandans and non-Ugandans, the majority of whom are under detention without trial. These acts have infringed on the right to movement among other rights.

Thembo is the second journalist to be arrested after "Uganda Record" journalist Timothy Kalyegira was detained for bomb-related stories. He was accused of trying to jeopardize national security, according to sources.

"I was filming a certain lady at the border who was going through the unusual process of entering Uganda through DR Congo by the time I was arrested by police," Thembo explained. Police accused him of filming a security installation and later forced him to record a statement. Thembo was detained for more than four hours and later released without a formal charge.

HRNJ-Uganda condemns in the strongest terms possible the violation of the journalist's rights while on duty. HRNJ-Uganda calls on police to quickly investigate the security personnel who were behind these acts and ensure that they are brought to book.

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