ACME statement: Free DigiTalk TV staff immediately

15 March 2022

For Immediate Release

Kampala — African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) demands the immediate and unconditional release of The Alternative DigiTalk TV staff who have been under state custody for nearly a week now. 

On 10 March 2022 security officers attached to the military raided DigiTalk’s offices at Kintu Zone in Kampala’s Makindye Division. Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U), a media rights group, says that the raiders arrested nine employees and confiscated studio equipment including cameras, computers and a mobile broadcasting van. 

Those arrested are Executive Director Norman Tumuhimbise, Arnold Mukose (programmes director), Faridah Bikobere (TV host), Jeremiah Mukiibi (producer), Tumusiime Kato (production), Roger Tulyahabwe (production), Teddy Teangle Nabukeera (presenter), Lillian Luwedde (presenter) and Jeje Jacob Wabyona (student intern). 

They are reportedly being detained incommunicado at the Special Investigations Unit in Kireka on the outskirts of Kampala. Their lawyers and family members are yet to see them. The reason for their arrest and illegal detention remains unknown. According to Uganda Radio Network, lawyers have today, 15 March, filed an application in court demanding the unconditional release of the media practitioners.

The arrest of the group followed an announcement by their leader, Tumuhimbise, on social media promoting the launch of two books — “Liars and Accomplices” and “The Komanyoko Politics: Unsowing the Mustard Seed.” The latter references the title of President Yoweri Museveni’s memoir, Sowing the Mustard Seed. The launch was expected to take place at the end of this month at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. 

“The detention of DigiTalk staff without charge is not only against the law but also an infringement on the right to freedom of expression,” said Dr Peter Mwesige, the ACME executive director. “We condemn it in the strongest terms and call upon the authorities to immediately release them or charge them in court as per the laws of the land. These actions have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to press freedom and the wider rights to freedom of expression and speech, which are guaranteed by Uganda’s Constitution.” 

The latest action comes on the heels of the case of author and activist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija who was tortured while in detention after being charged with publishing offensive communication against President Museveni and his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Mr Rukirabashaija has since fled into exile in Germany.   

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Image by Quince Creative from Pixabay

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