We won’t be intimidated – journalists

BBC correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga has said she will continue telling the story of Uganda’s health care system despite her recent arrest and detention by Ugandan police.

Byaruhanga, her cameraman Kelvin Brown and NTV Gulu correspondent Sam Lawino were arrested filming outside Abim Hospital on Saturday 6, February 2016.

Trouble started when Abim District Police Commander David Eliamu found Byaruhanga and her colleagues filming outside the government health facility and demanded that they delete the footage and record a statement. They refused to do both.

They were detained for about four hours at Abim Central Police Station before they were released without charge.

Byaruhanga said: “We will continue to tell the story of Uganda’s healthcare system and other important stories in the country.”

She thanked her colleagues in the media fraternity who put pressure on the authorities to have them released “with an apology, our footage and equipment”.

Speaking to ACME from Gulu, Lawino said the incident was an “intimidation of the highest level”.

“The police acted outside the law and in total ignorance of how the media operates. If we had done something wrong, they should have charged us but we were shocked when the DPC later told us ‘you are free to go’.”

He said although their arrest and detention point to the challenges the media and other civil rights bodies face in trying to inform the world, they will not be cowed.

Abim hospital shot to the media spotlight when FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye visited the facility on 5 December 2015 and was taken around by senior nursing officer Santina Adong.

The hospital, built in the 1960s, was in a dilapidated state and has not had a resident doctor for nearly two years according to Daily Monitor.

However, when the story was published by the media, the Abim Chief Administrative Officer   suspended Adong and two of her colleagues who were present at the time of Dr Besigye’s visit.

Byaruhanga and her team had travelled to the hospital to follow up the story.

Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer hanena@acme-ug.org @ahpetite

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