BBC Journalists Briefly Detained Over Attempt to Film Abim Hospital Story

Police in Abim district yesterday briefly detained a crew of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalists over covering a story about Abim Hospital.

Catherine Byaruhanga

The BBC crew including reporter Catherine Byaruhanga cameraman Kelvin Brown, fixer Lawino Sam and driver Mahmoud Ahmed were found outside Abim Hospital filming the vicinity.

The crew was later released after an apology and with their equipment.

Catherine Byaruhanga tweeted “a massive thank you for all the tweets, RTs and calls. It worked – we were released after an apology and with all our equipment…a humbling moment to see that people hold the journalistic profession in such high regard and are willing to stand up for it.”

Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo said the “arrest was unnecessary in the first place” and noted that “It’s a brainless action, a rookie mistake but one that is consistent with the actions of the police.”

He opined that the arrest “sends a chilling message to the media, stifles media freedom and in the end denies the people of Uganda the right to receive information. Cathy and Sam are not souls to be shaken but think about a local reporter who does not work for the BBC?”

The hospital cam to limelight when Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Kizza Besigye visited it in December last year during his northern Uganda campaigns tour and found it in a dilapidated state and that had been without a resident doctor for nearly two years. The state of the hospital caused public uproar.