Human Rights Network for Journalists – UgandaUganda_8

The government switched off social media platforms in Uganda ahead of the swearing in of President Yoweri Museveni, after the 18 February 2016 disputed elections, which saw the incumbent – who has been in power since 1986 – win against seven other contenders. This is the second time social media platforms are being switched off.

A message circulating reportedly from the telephone service providers to their subscribers quotes a directive from the communications regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to switch off all social media platforms till after the swearing in ceremony, cited security safeguards. In February 2016, social media platforms were switched off arbitrarily, and a case is in court challenging the actions of the UCC in violating freedom of expression and access to information.

Meanwhile, on 11 May 2016, police arrested two journalists, shot at and injured a Channel 44 reporter as the army caned a female journalist. They had been covering a demonstration by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supporters, who were contesting the swearing in of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, due to take place on 12 May 2016 in Kampala.

Denis Kato – a journalist with Channel 44 – was reportedly shot in his left leg and rushed to a nearby health centre for first aid treatment, while Arnold Mukose of Salt FM and Ndugga Nicholas of Delta TV were arrested. Damalie Muhaye of KFM was caned by army officers forcing her to give up on covering the news story.

“I was standing at [the] Radio One entrance (along Duster Street), covering, from a distance, people demonstrating at Nakasero market, when all over a sudden a rubber bullet hit my left leg,” Kato told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview. He said he was feeling severe pain as a result of the injury.