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ACME: Detention of Red Pepper Bosses Meant to Intimidate all Media Houses

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The African Centre for Media Excellence (Acme) has criticized government for arresting and detaining Red Pepper editors and directors.

On Tuesday, court denied eight Red Pepper bosses (editors and directors) bail and sent them back to Luzira Prisons until December 19.

The eight are:

Directors: Arinaitwe Rugyendo, James Mujuni, Johnson Byarabaha, Patrick Mugumya and Richard Tusiime.

And editors: Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime.

and Richard Tusiime; and editors Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime — appeared in court on Tuesday.

A prosecutor said granting Red Pepper staff bail would jeopardise national security. 

Police arrested the eight last month following a raid on their offices at Namanve. 

Police had first held them at Nalufenya in Jinja district. 

They would later appear before court. They face charges of disturbing the peace of Uganda’s three-decade president Yoweri Museveni and his brother Salim Saleh.

The charges relate to a story in which they claimed that Museveni was plotting to overthrow Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Kampala has since dismissed the reports as false. 

In fact, Museveni and Kagame met during the inauguration for a second term of Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta. 


In a statement, Acme executive director Dr Peter Mwesige said the detention of Red Pepper staff was meant to cause fear among reporters and media houses.

“The prolonged detention of the eight and the closure of their business is not only disproportionate to the offences preferred, but also appears to be a calculated ploy to intimidate the Red Pepper and the entire media fraternity in Uganda,” said Dr Mwesige.

He added that the detention was a slap in the face of freedom of the press and expression.

“These actions have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to press freedom and the wider rights to freedom of expression and speech, which are guaranteed by the Constitution.”


Mwesige has also rallied the media fraternity to stand with Red Pepper, instead of criticizing the tabloid and its editors.

“We call upon Ugandan journalists, media owners, civil society actors, politicians and all those who believe in the freedom of speech to stand with Red Pepper even if some do not like how they do their journalism.”

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