By Spy Uganda
Ugandan Freelance journalist Tony Babara alias ‘Natty Dread’ who was arrested in Kigali in February this year, could spend years in Rwandan prison after authorities preferred drug trafficking charges against him, yet his case can’t be heard until the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown is lifted by President Paul Kagame.
Natty Dread, who is a Rastafarian fan of legendary Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley, is being detained incommunicado with no easy access to family, friends or colleagues, and his lawyers.
The Rwandan law says suspects have to be produced in courts of law within 48 hours but the journalist has been incarcerated since February 14, 2020, without ever being arraigned before any competent court.
The developments came to light after Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) contacted their counterparts Rwanda Journalists Association (RJA) to intervene in helping the journalist out of jail.
The two sister journalists’ organisations dialogued and resolved to plead with the High Council for Media (Media Council) in Kigali on their behalf to discuss the matter out of court, after learning of the earlier charge of violating COVID-19 preventive measures in Rwanda.
However, a highly placed source confirmed to TheSpy Uganda that Natty Dread was arrested at Kigali airport on February 14, 2020 in transit from Entebbe to Nairobi .
The source said the Ugandan journalist was allegedly found with a substantial amount of narcotic drugs which he (Natty) confessed to having possessed and said the drugs ease his Asthmatic condition.
“The use or trafficking of drugs is a serious offence under the Rwandan law,” said the source.
Rwandan authorities have since confirmed that Natty Dread’s arrest has nothing to do with his Journalistic profession or photography work.
We have tried to seek assistance from our colleagues in Kigali to undertake independent investigations on the truth but they all quote information from security agencies.
We now remain with using diplomatic channels to talk to Rwandan authorities on the matter using eminent persons.
“First is to request the Ugandan government to intervene by talking to their Rwandans counterparts.
We have identified personalities to help us in contacting the top Rwandan leadership.
We do not believe the allegations against journalist Natty Dread are true neither can we dismiss the allegations as trumped up,” a source privy to matter intimated to one of Spies yesterday.