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Uganda deports U.S. journalist over political opposition coverage

On Friday 26 July 2013, the Ugandan government deported an American journalist, Taylor Krauss, over coverage of opposition related news in the capital of Kampala. He was detained for three days in a police cell without any charges preferred against him. He was accused of violating the country's immigration rules and working within the country illegally.

Details of the deportation could not be verified as the airport spokesperson couldn't confirm it because he was 'in a meeting'. But it was confirmed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, “If he is not at Jinja Road Police Station, then he has been taken to the airport. He has not been brought here (Internal Affairs Ministry headquarters). If you need to see
him, go to the airport at Entebbe now,” the Internal Affairs spokesperson, Jacob Simunyu, told HRNJ-Uganda Friday evening, adding that, “He was not charged because he was removed administratively".

Krauss was arrested on 23 July along Kampala Road as he filmed a police operation where they tear-gassed crowds and towed a car carrying the former Forum for Democratic Change leader, Dr Kizza Besigye. He was detained at Jinja Road Police Station, in a suburb of Kampala, as the government processed an air ticket to fly him out of the country.

The US Mission publicist in Kampala, Daniel Travis, said he could not comment on the matter much as they were aware of it, “We are providing appropriate consular assistance to him as a US citizen, but in accordance with the US Privacy Act, I cannot comment further on the progress of the matter. I am sorry,” he told HRNJ-Uganda.

HRNJ-Uganda was unable to talk to Krauss, who reportedly entered the country about a fortnight ago on a visitor visa which the Internal Affairs officials said prohibited him from carrying out any formal work. According to Simunyu, “His visitor's visa is still open, but he was arrested because he was doing journalistic work contrary to his visa provisions. He is going to be removed.”

Human Rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi said that Krauss had a right to receive information, “He is here legally, so it is his right to receive and pass on information, since the right to receive information is guaranteed.”

Some sources said Krauss had come to film a documentary on Dr. Besigye and other opposition politicians. Dr Besigye could not comment. “Can't talk now… Please send me a text message,” he wrote to HRNJ-Uganda. He had not replied to the text message by the time of publishing this alert.

The deportation of Krauss comes days after the new Internal Affairs minister, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima warned that his priorities include enforcing stricter media regulations and tackling illegal immigrants, among others.

“Detaining Krauss for three days and deporting him without a charge or being heard is evidence of how deteriorating the freedoms of expression, the media and rule of law have deteriorated in Uganda. The state should stop criminalizing coverage of news involving opposition politicians, especially where the police react excessively to political assemblies,” said HRNJ-Uganda's National Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

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