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Missing Radio Simba journalist released after eight days in detention

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - A Radio Simba journalist, Arafat Nzito, who went missing on 4 November 2010 has been released from detention after the intervention of the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda).

Nzito, 23, was kidnapped from Radio Simba by four plain-clothed men in a privately registered Toyota double cabin at around 2:30 p.m.

His relatives, friends and workmates mounted a search at all police and security centers within and around Kampala but were unsuccessful in locating him. The security and police authorities all denied knowledge of his whereabouts.

This compelled HRNJ-Uganda to go to court over the matter and file a habeas corpus through their lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi on 12 November, tasking the army commander, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) boss Brigadier James Mugira and the Attorney General Dr. Kiddhu Makubuya with producing the missing journalist.

The following day, Nzito secured his freedom. He was released in Kamwokya, a suburb of Kampala, on 12 November in the afternoon.

"He called us at around 3:00 p.m. informing us that he was at Kamwokya where he had been dumped and that he was getting into a taxi to come to the radio station. We stopped him and sent a station van which picked him up and brought him to the station," said a staff member at Radio Simba who preferred not to be named.

Sources say that Nzito was dumped by the same Toyota vehicle which kidnapped him from the radio station.

Prior to his release, Nzito's older sister Hadijah Nantambi and HRNJ-Uganda's Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala received anonymous calls to the effect that, "Nzito has been released, find him at Simba." Twenty minutes later, Nzito arrived at Radio Simba.

HRNJ-Uganda has since established that Nzito was being detained at the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT) headquarters at Kololo in Kampala under horrible conditions.

"He looked stressed, dirty and couldn't talk much or even answer most of the questions we put to him. He had visibly lost weight," said Ssebaggala, who met him at Radio Simba. "It is very sad that after all this incarceration, no charges were brought against him."

"This is violence and torture at its best. It's not clear why Nzito was kidnapped and detained for over a week. We want security to justify this gross abuse of the law," Ssebaggala added.

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