Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Amnesty International has described a directive from Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to suspend staff of several media houses as blatant attack on press freedom.
“This order from Uganda’s communications commission represents a blatant attack on press freedom and a lamentable tendency towards state censorship,” she said in a statement. “The Ugandan authorities must immediately rescind this decision and end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and media houses. Journalists must be allowed to freely do their job,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson.
On Wednesday, UCC ordered 13 radio and TV stations to suspend their news editors, producers and heads of programming, over breach of minimum broadcasting standards.
The Africa Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) also issued a statement, asking UCC to correct its mistake by rescinding the order and apologising to Ugandans.
According to ACME, UCC is sending signals that curtailing programming critical of government abuses has been upped. ACME further said that the sheer scale and reach of the UCC directive brings into question the regulator’s motives.
“It is not as if when journalists carry live feed of an egregiously brutal arrest of a prominent public figure they are making up the story. Over the years, UCC has acted cynically with the aim of controlling, not regulating, the broadcast industry.”
The statement further reads; “Its latest directive will cripple newsgathering operations, hamper the free flow of news and other information, and trigger a chilling effect on the media industry as a whole.”
ACME said that is disturbing that UCC issued its infamous directive in the week when journalists are celebrating World Press Freedom Day. World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated on Friday.