Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan journalists have protested what they described as “gagging by the state” as the ongoing debate about changing the constitution to lift the age-limit for the presidency rages.
Under their Uganda Press Freedom Forum, the journalists from leading media houses across the country blamed security and the Uganda Communications Commission for interfering in their work. They also lashed at media owners for not taking a firmer stand in defence of a free press.
“Over the last several weeks, as agitation over the presidential age limits has seized public debate, Ugandan journalists and media houses have been unfortunate victims of overzealous security personnel keen to stifle particularly the voices of Ugandan citizens opposed to the removal of the age limits,” the journalists said in a statement.
The statement added that “the cocktail of security agencies involved in suffocating people’s inalienable rights to hold opinions of their choice and to freely express and disseminate them has, regrettably, been helped by no less an institution than the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), which promises in its tagline to provide ‘Communication For All’.”
The journalists also lashed out editors and media owners.
“We also want to challenge editors, news executives and indeed media owners who interface directly with these most unfortunate demands and actions by UCC and its partners to take a firmer stand in defence of a free press,” they said in their statement, adding that ” Their failure to push back strongly against these erroneous directives has a direct effect on our credibility before the public we elect ourselves to inform and educate. Defend your reporters before they are too weak to defend you!”
Uganda Press Freedom Forum is a loose grouping of journalists from across all media houses who strive to enhance freedom of the press. The forum was founded in 2016 and currently has 230 journalists from around the country.