The Ugandan police have arrested and questioned members of an anti-corruption civil society group who were distributing anti-corruption news bulletins dubbed "Black Monday," and other materials at the Wampeewo roundabout in Kampala.
Arthur Larok, the ActionAid Uganda Country Director and Leonard Okello, the Executive Director of The Uhuru Institute were arrested by police on Monday, 7 January 2013 and driven in a police patrol car to the Jinja road police station, where they were questioned for about 2 hours and later released with no charges laid against them.
"We had just finished distributing our anti-corruption materials when the officers on a police patrol car arrested us and drove us to the Jinja Road Police Station. They questioned us for about 2 hours, but released us without recording statements or preferring any charges. All we are doing is implementing the president's Manifesto of Zero-tolerance to corruption." Larok told HRNJ-Uganda soon after being released.
"They arrested us, although they never found grounds to charge us on. They read through the materials, and distributed copies amongst themselves. The police acted professionally." Okello said.
The "Black Monday" bulletin highlights corruption scandals rocking the country since 2000. It also calls for the improvement of the welfare of the Ugandan police force. In November 2012, the police cordoned off a hired venue and blocked activists from using it to launch the "Black Monday Movement" - a campaign against escalating cases of high-profile corruption scandals in the country especially in the Prime Minister's office that saw over Shs 20 billion stolen.
The Jinja road district police commander, Nganiizi Wesley told HRNJ-Uganda that the activists were not arrested but only summoned for questioning about what they were distributing since it bore police photos. The police have blocked opposition rallies in Kampala in the past, citing security concerns.
"Such acts by the police are a clear violation of Ugandans' inalienable right to assemble and associate. The police should instead give security to Ugandans as mandated by law to allow citizens to enjoy their rights and freedoms," said HRNJ-Uganda's National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.
Human Rights Network for Journalists