By Kizito Buule
Watchdog Uganda reporter Stephen Kalema was on Wednesday arrested by National Theatre Police and held for several hours for holding an interview with the former Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza. The meeting was held at the theatre’s parking yard and last about five minutes.
According to Kalema, while carrying out the interview, two police men attached to the National Theatre signaled him to stop talking to the Kasese Woman legislator. However, he went on with his interview up to the end.
“While I was proceeding with my interview, two police officers came towards where we were standing. One was dressed in civilian clothes while the other donned police’s black uniform. As soon as I finished the interview with Hon. Kiiza they surrounded me and asked me to handover my recording gadgets and ordered me to follow them,” said Kalema
Kalema narrates that he was taken towards the exit gate and forced to enter newly constructed holding facility.
“The officer in civilian attire asked me who had given me the authority to interview Kiiza. This is a government entity, why are you holding an interview with the person opposing the government? What if she speaks bad things about the government, do you want me to lose my job? Who gave the permission?” he asked, threatening to ‘show me’.
Kalema says he told them that the interview was random, adding that he was at the facility and by good chance he saw Hon. Kiiza. But since he was following up on a story about 2021 election roadmap, he could not miss the opportunity.
“I also told them that i did not need to seek permission since it was impromptu,”
“They then ordered that I play the recording,”
According to Kalema, he did not hesitate and played the audio he had recorded, for which they did not find fault.
The police has come under spotlight for violating the rights of several journalists under duty.
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