The constant attacks on journalists by security operatives have seen Uganda drop 10 by places in the just released 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
Uganda stands at 112, down from 102 it occupied last year with an index score of 35.94. The attacks on journalists shot up before and after the 2016 presidential election.
Reporters Without Borders, the publishers of the survey said in a statement about Uganda “Acts of intimidation and violence against journalists are an almost daily occurrence in Uganda. The 2016 presidential election saw serious media freedom violations, including threats to close down media outlets, Internet cuts, and verbal and physical attacks on reporters, especially those covering the opposition leader.”
It adds that “many journalists who do not toe the government line have been suspended, stripped of their equipment, or badly beaten by ruling party members or security agents.”
In the EAC region, only Tanzania and Kenya fare better than Uganda. Tanzania ranks at 83, and Kenya comes in at 95. South Sudan stands at 145 while Rwanda and Burundi, which have been at loggerheads in recent years follow each other at 159 and 160.
The first five countries on the World Press Freedom Index are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Netherlands. The first four are Scandinavian countries, a European region of shared ethno cultural heritage.
On its website, Reporters Without Borders says it was “appalled” by the kidnapping and beating of a TV journalist due to her coverage of an incident where a university academic Stella Nyanzi criticised Education Minister Janet Museveni who is also President Museveni’s wife.
Press freedom in danger: some striking cases (click to read)