Two Ugandan journalists and two fixers have been released after being arrested for filming without the required permits
Freelance journalists Justin Dralaze and Hilary Ayesiga following their release from detention in South Sudan (AFP)
Freelance journalists Justin Dralaze and Hilary Ayesiga were arrested by security officials after failing to provide press accreditation while filming.
he pair were not deported from South Sudan, but returned to Uganda following their release. They had been in South Sudan working on a story for the US-based Feature Story News Agency.
South Sudanese reporter Sunday David Tut, who had been assisting the pair of journalists, and their driver/fixer, Mohammed Bukenya were also released after being arrested on Saturday.
“I am happy I am out and finally to be going back home,” said Dralaze, and Ayesiga explained that they were not mistreated while in custody.
The journalists, who were not expelled but were due to fly home to Uganda later Wednesday, had been reporting for the US-based Feature Story News (FSN) agency.
Security has been heightened in South Sudan after the president sacked all of the government’s ministers last week, while the young country has a reputation for adopting a heavy approach when dealing with the media.
President of the Ugandan Journalists Union (UJU), Lucy Ekadu described the journalists’ release as a major relief for the media fraternity in Uganda.
She urged the South Sudanese authorities to ensure the safe passage of journalists in the future, in the spirit of East African cooperation: “South Sudan should allow nationals of other countries free movement the same way Sudanese nationals move freely in other countries.”
Uganda Media Centre director, Ofwono Opondo explained that the journalists’ release was secured following negotiations by the Ugandan embassy in Juba.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom welcomed the decision by the South Sudanese authorities to free the freelance journalists and their colleagues.
Source: UJU, AFP
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