Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda

Police in Gulu district have arrested a man in connection with the murder of a 23-year old freelance journalist, Scovia Anena, who was working with a Christian based radio station, Favor FM. Residents discovered Anena’s decomposing body on Monday, 15 June 2015, lying in clotted blood in her rented house, at Kolo quarters in Layibi Division, Gulu Municipality, in Northern Uganda.

The Gulu District Police Commander, Martin Okoyo, told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that Anena’s husband was arrested in connection with the murder, “We have arrested one suspect in connection with her murder, it is her husband, and we have him in our cells as further investigations are going on. We arrested him from Gulu,” Okoyo said in an interview. Sources have identified the suspect as Joel Kenneth.

A local journalist, who preferred anonymity, told HRNJ-Uganda that Anena’s body had a rope tied around her neck and onto a chair, with all things in her room scattered around, meaning that she must have put up a fight but was overpowered by her killer(s). The journalist said that Anena was sleeping alone in the house, since her husband was working with an NGO in Pader district, and would return home over weekends. The source said that post-mortem examination results indicated that Anena sustained chest and lung injuries, pointing to the possible use of a blunt object on her. Anena was said to have been pregnant with her first child.

The deceased’s news editor at Favor FM, Caroline Ayugi, told HRNJ-Uganda that, “Anena had last reported to work on Friday 12th June, 2015 and left after filing her stories. She went back very okay after work, she did not hint on any threats to her life.” Anena’s burial is due on Thursday, 18 June, at 9:00am local time, in Layibi.

Meanwhile, Central Police Station in Gulu arrested a Vision Group journalist, Lamony Jee Wilfred, on 15 June 2015 while following up on a story of the theft of a commercial motorcycle. He was detained for a night and released the following evening, without a charge, on the orders of the Regional Police Commander. He lost his company identity card and national identity card and other valuables.

“This is another sad moment for the media. HRNJ-Uganda conveys its condolences to the media and the deceased’s family. Police should thoroughly investigate this horrific murder and bring the perpetrators to book. There are other previous murders of journalists for which the police should release its investigation reports. The police should also stop arresting journalists on duty and charging them on trumped-up charges. Police should compensate Mr. Lamony,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.