The Reuters Journalist, who according to colleagues, was “beaten badly and taken away by Military”, shoots for the UK based media house here in Uganda and the Great Lake region. He was reportedly picked up by the Police and the Ugandan Soldiers continued their clamp down on sporadic riots that erupted Monday afternoon in Kampala over the arrest of MP Robert Kyagulanyi.
Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda (FCAU), a body that unites journalists covering Uganda for foreign media organizations, have however called for the release of their colleague as initial report alleged that he was been detained at the Kampala Central Police Station.
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) August 20, 2018
We call on the #Uganda|n authorities to immediately release @Reuters photojournalist @akena_james and ensure his safety following reports that he has been beaten up and detailed by soldiers while covering a street protest in central Kampala @UPDFspokespersn #JournalismIsNotACrime
BBC Uganda multi-media reporter Catherine Byaruhanga said Akena was reportedly beaten up and detained by Uganda military, whilst covering protests in downtown Kampala over the detention of MP Bobi Wine and others.
“Despite the Uganda government’s assurances journalists are still targets as they deal with the fallout from arresting Bobi Wine and his supporters,” she tweeted.
“Deployment of masked soldiers on Uganda’s streets always a sign of how serious the state takes the security situation. Indication they are Special Forces. Today, I saw masked and unmasked soldiers as well as plenty of police,” she further tweeted.
Akena, who has been in photojournalism for over 20 years, built his career while documenting the victims of conflict in northern Uganda, during a crackdown on the LRA rebel group. Uganda Police has often denied intentionally targeting journalists and often described the arrest of reporters as mistakes by officers.
It was further gathered that NTV Uganda journalists Juma Kiirya and Ronald Galiwango were also arrested, and taken to an unknown destination as they covered “Free Bobi Wine” protests in Kampala. They were later released but forced to delete protests footage.