CJFE condemns Uganda's expulsion of Canadian Journalist

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is concerned at the Ugandan government's treatment of Canadian journalist Blake Lambert. On March 9, 2006, Mr. Lambert tried to reenter Uganda, where he has lived for the past three years, after a short trip to South Africa. At Kampala airport, his passport was confiscated, and he was put on a plane to neighbouring Kenya without papers. In Nairobi, he spent more than 28 hours in the transit lounge waiting for officials to let him into the country. He was denied entry and finally put on a plane to Toronto, Canada. CJFE President Arnold Amber called upon Ugandan authorities to explain the expulsion of this well-respected journalist. He also asked the Canadian government to "express its condemnation for the Ugandan government's treatment of a Canadian journalist" and called on government officials, particularly High Commissioner to Uganda, Jim Wall to pursue this matter. Blake Lambert has worked for the Economist, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has worked in Uganda for the past three years, though his press accreditation has not been renewed for the past few months after troubles with officials. The Director of the Government-owned Media Centre, Robert Kabushenga is reported as saying that "Lambert is generally an unwanted person here," and says that he asked him "to provide a more balanced outlook on Uganda." The Media Centre, which was formed in January of this year, refused to renew Mr. Lambert's press accreditation. Mr. Lambert was not given any formal reason for the refusal, nor was he given the right to appeal the decision. All foreign journalists were required to reregister at the Centre by Jan 3. No foreign journalists have since received a full renewal of their accreditation, although Will Ross of the BBC has been given a temporary renewal. At issue in Blake Lambert's recent disfavour may be articles he has written about Uganda's AIDS strategy, and the ongoing trial of Kizza Besigye, President Museveni's main political opponent, who was detained for over a month before February's presidential election, and who faces treason charges. Blake Lambert is 34 years old, and has worked as a journalist for over a decade. He studied journalism at the University of Regina, and is originally from Toronto. CJFE is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. -30- For more information: email Julie Payne or contact at (416) 515-9622 Arnold Amber (416) 205-7847. Blake Lambert can be contacted here

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