The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today expressed concern over the arrest of noted Ugandan TV host and outspoken government critic Basajja Mivula.
The journalist was arrested by plain-clothes police at Baba TV offices in Kampala today, moments after sharing a a video on Facebook in which he said that he has been summoned for questioning by security services, but “is not afraid”.
Mivula is known for his criticism of government corruption and long-reigning President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office since 1986 and is contesting elections again in 2021 – which may allow him to extend his rule until 2031. The Museveni government has frequently been accused of cracking down on media freedom and violating human rights.
While the reason for his arrest is yet to be announced by the police, it comes amid a recent rise in aggression towards government critics, journalists and media personalities. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, a writer and television presenter, was arrested in April over a Facebook post related to Covid-19. TV anchor Samson Kasumba was arrested around the same time for “seditious comments”, and more recently, members of the popular comedy group Bizonto were arrested on charges of sectarianism.
“We are concerned that Basajja Mivula’s arrest comes amid an uptick in the harassment of government critics in Uganda in the run-up to elections”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “Authorities must clarify the reason for any investigation against Mivula and swiftly release him. Criticism of the government is not a crime.”
IPI has closely monitored the decline in press freedom in Uganda in recent years, and calls on the government to allow journalists to do their jobs safely and freely.