Kampala. The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac has said no press in the world must serve interest of governments but strive to be independent amidst suppression by the states.
The media landscape in the country for journalists have been rough with continued cases of harassment, arrests and injuries inflicted on journalists especially by the forces. In the latest dangerous trend is when NTV reporter, Gertrude Uwitware was abducted, harassed for posting on social media which was deemed anti-state.
The continued arrests and intimidation has left a bad picture on the press index for the country. On May 3, Journalists in Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day, under the Theme ‘Critical Minds for Critical Roles-Media in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
The national celebrations were held at Golf View Hotel in Kampala with a solidarity march attended by several Journalists, Rights defenders, civil and political leaders.
Some of the journalists and donors attending presentations during World Press Freedom Day. All photos by Stephen Candia.
The United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac, who officiated at the commemoration called for the Media owners and practitioners to promote dialogue and expose corruption that has become endemic in the country.
“No Press anywhere in the world must serve government interest but rather be biased in public interest, stick to the facts and practice self-censorship,” Malac said.
The Ambassador also encouraged Journalists to stay the fight for better Uganda adding that a free press is a champion for Uganda’s development.
Mogens Pedersen, the Danish Ambassador to Uganda, observed that there has been increasing limitation to freedom of press in Uganda, where social media has been shut down especially during presidential elections and swearing-in of the President.
According to the press index report 2016-17 on media freedom worldwide, Uganda has dropped to position 112 from 102 out of 180 countries because of its attack on media freedom, a critical measure of democracy in the country.
Mogens noted that the EU member states are strongly concerned about the increasing cases of attacks on the media in Uganda and urged security institutions like the UPDF, Police and ISO/ESO to respect diversity of Journalists and the Media in Uganda.
L- Ibrahim Semujju Nganda discussing the press freedom.
Dr William Tayeebwa, lecturer and acting head, department of Journalism and Mass Communication Makerere University said there is need for a conducive environment at institutional level if Journalists are to do a good job.
He added that Journalists should continue engaging governments to respect the laws and avoid caging the media in the name of fostering security.
Margaret Sekaggya, founder Uganda Human Rights Commission says the media plays a powerful role in informing the public, adding that there is need to fight for the rights of the media.
She says UHRC recognizes the challenges the media is facing and is committed to receive and investigate human rights abuses in the country.
Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the MP Kira Municipality observes that Parliament is concerned over increasing internal threat to the media but calls for professionalism and truthfulness in reporting stories.
But James Tumusiime, the Editor in Chief the Observer decries the toll commercial interests are taking on the media, which he says suppresses dissemination of information to the public.
The World Press Freedom day celebrations were also graced with awards to best male, Female and Newsroom categories on human rights reporting by Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda.