American independent documentary filmmaker Taylor Krauss was put on an international flight on the evening of 26 July after being held for three days at Kampala’s Jinja Road police station.
26.07.2013 - US filmmaker snatched by police in Kampala, held for past three days
Reporters Without Borders condemns American independent documentary filmmaker Taylor Krauss’ detention by the Ugandan authorities for the past three days.
Krauss, who is doing research for a potential documentary about the Ugandan political opposition, was seized by police officers in central Kampala on 23 July while filming an opposition rally and the arrest of its leader, Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe, also known as Kizza Besigye. Krauss was then taken to Jinja Road police station, where he is still held.
“Abducting Krauss while he was filming police violence was a flagrant violation of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on the authorities to release him unconditionally at once and to explain why he has been held for so long. “Even if he is eventually expelled for administrative reasons, there are no grounds for holding him this long. This has all the hallmarks of a reprisal.”
Reporters Without Borders has been told that the authorities have had Krauss in their sights since well before 23 July because of his supposed support for Kizza Besigye.
Witnesses said Krauss was filming the police using force to disperse a crowd gathered around Kizza Besigye on Kampala Road. One of the policemen was heard say to his colleagues: “We have to deal with him.” The police then arrested both Krauss and Kizza Besigye, who was freed after being questioned for eight hours at the police station.
The interior ministry yesterday ordered that Krauss, who has been in Uganda for about two weeks, should be deported.
Interior ministry spokesman Benjamin Kagiremire said he had violated the conditions of his tourist visa, which bans him from working in Uganda. “An order has been issued that the American should be removed from the country immediately,” Kagiremire said.
Krauss’ wife, Moriah Brier, told Reporters Without Borders: “Taylor has travelled throughout east Africa for many years and is devoted to the region. He is in Uganda for his own personal interest and has done nothing wrong. The story that’s being told is that he is being expelled, but the reality is that he is being imprisoned. I just want him home, safe and sound.”
Krauss was arrested the same day that Gen. Aronda Nyakairima took office as interior minister. Speaking at his installation, Gen. Nyakairima praised the work of his predecessor, who cracked down on two privately-owned newspapers, The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper, in May.
“I will be checking on them (…) because Red Pepper again is going back to the old business,” Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda quoted him as saying.
Uganda is ranked 104th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Photograph: Taylor Krauss (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images North America / AFP)