Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda has joined the rest of the World to mark World Press freedom day amidst growing concern about restrictions against media practice.
The celebrations were held at Kampala Railway Gardens in Kampala where Journalists and media freedom advocates were flagged off for a peaceful procession.
Uganda Human Rights Commission spokesperson, Florence Munyira says they are carrying out joint activities with selected partners from civil society organisations who have been key in advocating for the right to freedom of expression and specifically press freedom as a way of advocating for the advancement of these rights in Uganda, under the global theme for this year “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law”.
The media advocates include among others, African Center for Media Excellence (ACME), Uganda Media Women Association (UMWA), Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), and Uganda National Commission for UNESCO, UN Human Rights-Uganda, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication by by the time of filing this report holding a peaceful procession to raise public awareness about the day. The Chief Guest at the main event is the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rebecca Kadaga.
According to organizers of the press day activities, the spotlight was expected to be on the Uganda Communications Commision (UCC) which has of recent been accused of issuing directives journalists say will constrict the space for independent media. Activities to mark commemorate the World Press Freedom Day in Uganda are being spearhead by Uganda Human Rights Commission.
UCC mid last month ordered Internet Service Providers to shut down all news sites that had not been authorized.
It issued a directive requiring all online data communication service providers, including online publishers, online news platforms, online radio and television operators to apply and obtain authorization in order to avoid the risk of enforcement including shut down of the outlets.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a statement said Uganda is not alone in its ambition to control online journalism.
The statement said across Sub-Saharan Africa, governments are taking aggressive steps to control what their citizens do and say online, justifying their suppression as necessary for public order and morality or security.
— Women’s Media Uganda (@UMWAandMamaFM) May 3, 2018
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ ) said unless this repressive trend is stemmed, Africa’s young but robust and diverse online media will wither.
In similar fashion to Uganda, the Tanzanian government now requires bloggers to register, a privilege that could cost an initial USD 484 and another USD 440 annually. The government will also license those streaming content online, though at a reduced fee.
Journalists in Uganda have in the past month complained against police brutality and named Uganda Police as leading government body torturing journalists at work.
Speaker @RebeccaKadaga applauds media for exposing human rights abuses in the country. She called for the establishment of a fund to help in the process of prosecuting cases of violence against the media. pic.twitter.com/uFIp4MxCez
— Parliament of Uganda (@Parliament_Ug) May 3, 2018
— Uganda Media Centre (@UgandaMediaCent) May 3, 2018