Journalists in Uganda are working under ‘critical conditions’ but must also work hard to avoid interference from state actors and other agents, according to the civil society organisation-Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU).
The organisation’s Coordinator Crispin Kaheru in his May 3rd message on the occasion to mark World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2019, says local journalists are being targeted; in some cases harassed, attacked or restricted from doing their jobs as 2021 general election approaches.
“Our journalists are working under critical conditions and in a stressful environment. Such a context makes it difficult for the media to ensure effective transparency and accountability during political processes including elections,” Kaheru says as Ugandan journalists prepare to join the rest of colleagues in the world to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
The main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2019 is taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from May 1-3 under the theme; ‘The role of media in elections and democracy’. The event will provide a platform for multiple actors to exchange on current issues, threats and achievements concerning freedom of the press. Some 100 national events around the world are expected to complement the main celebration.
“This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme speaks directly to Uganda’s current times.
The media needs both access to information and the freedom to freely and safely communicate that information. In Uganda, that space seems to be getting more and more constricted,” he says.
He urges the media in Uganda to decisively stand up for itself, fight fake news, disinformation and report fairly without fear or favour. “Whereas civil society reiterates its unwavering commitment to free press, the media itself is going to be its own savior,” he says, wishing the entire media fraternity, a rewarding World Press Freedom Day, 2019.
Mr. Kaheru’s comments come at the time when the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) has directed some top media houses in the country to fire their producers, editors and senior reporter for alleged nonadherence to UCC broadcast guidelines. The affected media houses are; NTV, NBS TV, BBS TV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV. Others are; Akaboozi FM, Beat FM, Capital FM, CBS FM, Pearl Fm, Sapientia FM and Radio Simba.
However, the event in Ethiopia will also host an academic conference on the safety of journalists which will allow researchers from different disciplines to share and discuss recent research. This will be the fourth edition of the conference, aimed at bridging the gap between academic research, policy-making and journalism.
As in the previous years, WPFD will host a Youth Newsroom, which will bring on board young journalists and journalism students to cover the event and expand their reporting skills.
A number of cultural events and performances will be included in the programme.