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Journalist detained for 48 hours after exposing wave of break-ins

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Mpigi, 21 March 2011 - Police in Buwama, Mpigi district (80 kilometers south of Kampala), have arrested and detained Central Broadcasting Service (CBS FM) correspondent Yoweri Musisi over a story which alleged increased lawlessness in the area.

CBS FM is owned by the Buganda Kingdom.

Musisi was arrested on 19 March 2011 at 10:00 a.m. by armed policemen at Buwama trading centre on the orders of the officer in charge of the station, Abbey Ngaho.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learned that Musisi had filed a number of stories on the increasing wave of thefts and home break-ins in areas of Luwunga, Nkozi and Bwere.

Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that residents in these areas have been living in fear since the beginning of the year due to the likelihood of rape, with the offenders forcefully entering people's houses.

"When I was writing the previous story, I went to [see the officer in charge at the] Buwama police station (called Natukunda) with a complainant from Bwere village - Simon Peter Kawuki. He confirmed that police have recorded cases of theft and home invasions from such areas," said Musisi.

When HRNJ-Uganda visited Musisi at Buwama police station on 20 March 2011, he said he was not aware of any charges against him, despite being behind bars.

Ngaho told HRNJ-Uganda that Musisi was held on charges of "inciting violence" and "giving false information".

"He reported in the news that there were rebels in the area. He traded false information and we shall punish him for that," said Ngaho.

Musisi was released on bond on 21 March 2011 at 1:00 p.m. after being charged with giving false information.

"Police should not use laws to silence the voices of the people but rather to guard communities from criminal elements. People resorting to the media to express their concerns clearly indicates that the police has failed in its work or that people have lost trust in the institution of the police," said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

HRNJ-Uganda challenges police to investigate and arrest all criminals who have been terrorizing communities rather than muzzling the voices of those who speak for the voiceless.

Musisi has been ordered to report to police on 24 March 2011 at 10:00am.

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