The Online Media Publishers Association (OMPA) has condemned the manner in which Vision Group journalist Charles Etukuri was “abducted” by yet to be known security agent, saying it was “unwarranted and shameful”.
On that note, the publishers have “insisted” that “relevant authorities must secure Etukuri and also hold liable the perpetrators of his kidnap.”
Charles Etukuri, a crime reporter with New Vision, a newspaper under the Vision Group media organization — was kidnapped by armed elements wearing military uniform outside Vision Group Headquarters in Kampala on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
Reports indicate Etukuri is being held at a safe house operated by Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in Kyengera, Wakiso District.
Etukuri’s abduction came after New Vision published an investigate report into the murder of foreign nationals in Uganda.
Eyewitnesses recounted seeing armed men forcing Etukuri into a waiting car that drove off to an unknown destination.
The President of OMPA, Giles Muhame, in a Monday statement said that the journalist had been denied access to healthcare among other things, which is violation of human rights thus the decision by the association to call for the unconditional release.
“Etukuri has been denied access to doctors and lawyers since he was snatched by the security agents almost a week ago, a fragrant violation of his inherent rights,” reads Muhame’s statement in part.
“OMPA demands immediate and unconditional release of the journalist being held incommunicado.”
The president further noted that rather than defending journalists in their efforts to promote democracy, the prevailing security situation was creating tension and fear among journalists.
“Etukuri’s kidnap is a continuation of a pattern of systemic harassment of critical journalists that could further self-censorship and intimidation of the media in Uganda. While some sections of security agencies might not agree with Etukuri’s articles, they should defend to the death his right to have them published,” he wrote.
“The press needs the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”