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Press Freedom in Uganda not getting any better – Journalists

Journalist Ntege William being arrested by Police in 2012. Web photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Media practitioners have said media space in Uganda has been reducing despite good laws in support of press freedom. The concern comes as Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate World Press freedom under the global theme for this year “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law”.

Several active journalists and others in retirement that were interviewed by URN have complained against increasing wave of restrictions that they say have tended to curtail media practice.

Veteran Journalist, Wafula Oguttu, also co-founder of the Daily Monitor Newspaper, argued that press freedom in the main stream media has been reducing over the years with a lot of control from media owners and government but the space is increasing in social media..

He says though journalists’ rights have not been violated for writing a particular story, their rights have been violated as they covered events over the years.

“There is a lot of self censorship and most of the journalists have been arrested not because of the stories they have written, but have been arrested when covering stories especially to do with opposition politics,” he said.

Oguttu said journalists covering the opposition politicians have been targeted by the police and other security operatives. He noted that some media houses have been shut down, and the media intimidated in many ways.

Dr. George Lugalambi, formerly Head of Mass Communications at Makerere University argued that press freedom is not getting any better. Lugalambi says the motivation for people in government towards gagging the media have not changed over time.

Lugalambi went on to say violation of freedom of journalists should not be expected in this era.

He says there is no press freedom for media up country especially given that media owners fear being shut down. He said some Resident District Commissioners who have shut down radio stations, summoned managers and reporters, but also demanded for scripts of news stories.

Lugalambi says social media is coming up as an option for freedom of expression, although government is also trying to censure this.

Alice Lubwama, one of the long-serving female journalists says so far journalists cover Government functions freely but media houses operate under self censureship.

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