By Candia Stephen
Arua. The Media platform in Uganda remains fragile and challenging as the fourth estate players continue to execute their mandate of informing, educating and entertaining the populace.
The need to maintain professionalism and sticking to the ethical code of conduct by journalists is the key emphasis different stakeholders continue to pursue in an effort to offer checks and balance in the work of media practitioners.
Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda-HRNJ-U is one key Media advocate for professionalism and rights based approach to Journalists work.
The National Coordinator HRNJ-U, Robert Ssempala during an interface platform to share on safety and security of journalists at work challenged media practitioners to uphold professionalism while executing their duties, said: “How professional we are determines our success and in all that we do, be right oriented in your approach! There are many forces working against us and we must stay focused, build bridges and avoid being divided.”
Mr Ssempala also calls for home grown solutions to home grown problems, adding that media owners and practitioners in upcountry areas should build capacity to solve their own challenges instead of relying on external organizations.
Journalists from West Nile Press Association attending the roundtable meeting. Photos by Aluma Aribo
Moses Magoola, the Programs Officer at HRNJ-U urges journalists to ensure professionalism in their work which remains a determinant of their safety and security.
“Be courageous and brave to do the right thing and identify with the people,” Magoola said.
He challenges journalists to understand the laws governing media operations in the country adding that ‘ignorance of the law’ still remains a big challenge to journalists in up country areas.
Speaking at the joint interface meeting between HRNJ and West Nile Press Association, the police spokesperson for West Nile, Josephine Angucia said safety for journalists lie first in individuals.
“Take charge of your security first, if the situation is dangerous, change tactics and also design ways of bridging bad relationships so that the gap reduces,” Angucia noted.
According to an index report by Rights organizations, police still ranks high in abuse of rights of journalists in Uganda.
But Angucia says all efforts are in place to ensure the police behaves professionally and calls on the public to report cases of unprofessional conduct by police officers.
Andrew Amvwesi, a Red Pepper journalist speaking during the meeting at Desert Breeze Hotel in Arua.
Ndori Leni, the Prisons commander Arua government prison says journalists normally have a crush on protocol and where officers are guided by standing orders, adding that due to sensitivity of issues on prisoners, the media as a third party is sometimes kept off.
He however commends the media for the cordial relationship with the prisons authorities throughout the country saying this plays a key role in development of the country.
Thomas Nyeko, an attaché to district internal security organization Arua says the media offers an open source of information for security organs in the country to vet profile and act on the issues.
He however defuses claims that security organs tend to clamp down on journalists who expose critical issues touching government under the disguise of managing security.
Consulate Olemaru, the district information officer Arua concurs on this but says all district leaders have been trained on access to information law and should be able to give information on demand.
Among the key challenges the media faces in West Nile is the jostle in accessing information from government sources, who tend to conceal, deny, segregate and sometimes ignore journalists demands for information from public officers.