Gulu Prison Authorities Detain Journalist, Confiscate their Gadgets

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Five Gulu city-based journalists were arrested on Monday afternoon and their equipment confiscated by Uganda Prison Service officials at Gulu main prisons. The journalists including Jesse James Johnson, Gloria Lalam, David Okema and Joseph Omagor were detained for over thirty minutes on the orders of Margaret Orik, the Northern Region Prisons Commander.  

Orik also ordered the journalists to delete all the photos and audio recordings from their interviews. The journalists were interviewing Betty Aol Ochan, the Leader of Opposition on the roadside near Gulu prison main gate shortly after her visit to Aruu County MP, Samuel Odonga Otto, who is on remand at the facility.

The prison commander, who barked at the journalists who were pleading for the return of their gadgets and National identity cards said it was illegal for them to interview any person within or around prison premises. She ordered the journalists to leave the precincts of the prisons and return later to collect their items.

Prior to the detention of the journalists at the Gulu prisons main gate, they were also blocked from covering an earlier visit by the Acholi Parliamentary Group. Charles Akena, who works with the Northern Uganda Media Club –NUMEC told URN that he was making necessary consultations to recover the confiscated items.

David Okema, one of the journalists whose gadgets were confiscated wondered why the prison authorities wouldn’t allow them to do their work since they were on the roadside. This is not the first time journalists are running into problems with prison authorities. Two years ago, a team of journalists covering a delegation from the European Union were also involved in a scuffle with prison officials at the same facility.

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