It was a session characterized by thought-provoking questions, interesting ideas and discussion about media, safety, freedom, sustainability and other paramount issues as Journalists from western Uganda interacted with human rights defenders and invited local authorities on World Press Freedom Day 2022 at Oxford hotel in Mbarara city.
This was organized by the National Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights in Uganda (NAFODU) in partnership with ASUURE UGANDA (AU), Citizens Coalition for Independent Media & Voice of Mitooma, with funding from CIVICUS to engage & train the media “especially” female practitioners in line with their rights, freedom & safety. Journalists continue to express concern over the “still existing” hindrances in accessing some necessary information from government offices or relevant authorities.
Ariho Moses, the Resident City Commissioner-RCC Mbarara city South advised journalists not to accept and opt for out-of-court settlement whenever they are abused in the course of executing their work. He stressed that accepting to settle matters out of court and settling issues at personal level will compel many perpetrators to continue harassing journalists and violating their rights believing that they will not be dragged to court.
He further urged Journalists to always be objective and accurate in the information they release to the public saying one of the reasons some Journalists are no longer trusted is giving out unresearched information which misleads the country.
Meanwhile, Oburye Deo Mbabazi, the president of ASUURE Uganda challenged the media council with other authorities or stakeholders to ensure that proprietors of media platforms in the country pay Journalists a reasonable amount of money in order for them to do their work impartially. Ms. Catherine Aineamani, the Program Manager at NAFODU called on women to get involved in journalism since they are also capable.
Current situation in Uganda.
The 13th edition of the Annual Press Freedom Index Report of the year 2021 launched by the Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda-HRNJ Uganda on 28th April 2022, confirms a total of 131 cases of media violations and abuses documented in 2021.
The Uganda Police Force has for the thirteenth year emerged as the leading violator of press freedoms in Uganda. In total, eighty-two (82) cases out of 131 violations were recorded against Police. The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) came 2nd in perpetration of press freedom violations in 2021 with a total of twenty-five (25) violations out of the 131 cases documented.
World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) commemoration were successfully conducted on Tuesday, May 3,2022 – as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-UNESCO’s General Conference.
The theme of this year’s WPFD Global Conference (held in Punta Del Este, Uruguay) – “Journalism Under Digital Siege.” The goal is to underline the role of the information in an online media environment by focusing on the following: the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression. the safety or journalists. Different human rights defenders and other stakeholders continue to call for a safer environment, enabling journalists to professionally execute their job worldwide. Journalists are also challenged to observe the law, since they aren’t above the law.