PPF condemns charges against journalists and closure of Unity FM radio in Northern Uganda

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), in a letter to Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda has expressed concern over the arrest and charges against six Unity FM journalists in Lira and closure of radio station since November 17.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali has condemned the unjustifiable arrest and charges against radio journalists and shutting down of Unity FM radio station. PPF also urged the authorities to drop all charges against journalists and re-open the radio station.

According to Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ-Uganda), the Lira District Police Commander (DPC) Joel Tubanone along with a large number of armed police officers and military officers barged into the premises of Unity radio, switched off its transmission and arrested six journalists on allegations of provocative violence.

The arrests were made on the orders of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Milton Odong, the police arrested six Unity FM journalists along with two other clients who were present in the station for business purpose.

The arrested journalists include; Charles Odongo -technical director, Keneth Opio-Assistant station manager, Felix Ogwang-presenter, Moses Alwala-news reporter, Micheal Ogwal-news anchor, Aron Ebwola-producer and two clients Okello Emmanuel Zumulamai and Junior Engola who were found there for business announcements to the radio.

However on November 19 the journalists were released but later on the same day they were arrested against at the Lira Police Station where they had reported to renew their bond. ‘

The arrest of journalists and shutting down of radio was a result of the station’s broadcast of live events of the funeral of Dickens Okello, an eleven year old student of Alito Primary School in Lira District.

According to Sam Atul, the Station Manager of Unity FM said, that the other two employees Akena Rolex and Otto Bill who were held inside the station without any justifiable reason were released four days later on November 20.

The journalists were released again and ordered to report the police daily.