Concerns are rising for a missing Ugandan journalist investigating the death of a Finnish businessman who died in mysterious circumstances in a Kampala hotel.
Charles Etukuri, who works for The New Vision newspaper, disappeared three days ago, had published a story about the death, which implicated some officials in the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).
Etukuri was picked up from outside his workplace at the state-owned newspaper on his way to lunch on Tuesday. He was last seen surrounded by about five men in plain clothes, who bundled him into a double-cabin pick-up truck and drove off.
There are suspicions he has been detained by forces related to security agencies.
SIX ARRESTED OVER DEATH OF INVESTOR-Ex-Finland minister, ISO operatives, girlfriend held
— The Sunday Vision (@thesundayvision) February 10, 2018
Barbara Kaija, the New Vision’s editor-in-chief told the BBC that Etukuri tried to reach out to his editor by phone on Tuesday evening.
The conversation lasted only a few seconds – just enough time for him to tell his editor that he was being held “over the story”.
Neither his employers nor his family have heard from him since.
Ms Kaija says this is the first time any of her investigative journalists have been kidnapped by unknown people.
She added that the New Vision management has taken all formal channels to try to trace their journalist’s whereabouts, in vain. No security agency has admitted holding him.
She told the BBC:
“The act that established the New Vision as a newspaper gives us permission to criticise the government or any government agencies, as long as we have our facts.
“When you do investigative reporting, you will always make some people angry. But in the past we have received complaints and we addressed them through formal and legal channels.
“This is an extreme. And that is why we are worried. I want to believe that it is individuals and that those individuals will be brought to book.
“But if it is an institution [holding him] then I would be very worried. Because investigative journalism is important to developing a young democracy.”