The Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), an umbrella body that brings together all journalists in Uganda, has urged Security agencies of police and the army to investigate and discipline errant officers who violate journalists’ rights.
UJA said this during the commemoration of the 30th World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) anniversary. WPFD was proclaimed during the United Nations General Assembly in Windhoek Namibia 1993. The call for an international calendar to observe the importance of media freedom was originally made at a meeting in Namibia when African journalists convened in partnership with UNESCO in 1991.
The international celebrations are being held in Punta Del Este, Uruguay under the theme; “Journalism under Digital Siege”, assessing the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, safety of journalists, access to information and privacy.
May 3rd acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives while in the line of duty.
“Persistent attacks on journalists in form of torture, intimidation of license withdraws, clobbering, unwarranted arrests, detentions, damage of work tools, etc., by individual security personnel from the Police, Army, RDC’s and press regulators, have significantly had a bearing to the enjoyment of press freedom and journalism activities in this free and democratic society. Such acts by the men in uniform have left several journalists with physical impairment,” UJA said in a statement.
UJA said Journalists’ rights have time and again been violated by some of their gate keepers and proprietors of media houses. Though the law sets contractual requirements, a number of media practitioners continue to be employed without appointment letters and formal contracts. Journalists are being retrenched and sacked at will, they are paid poorly, some are not facilitated to work effectively, and they are denied insurance covers to address health risks arising from occupational hazards.
The Journalist’s body decried the Communications Commission’s (UCC) arbitrary directives which have compromised the independence of journalism practices and this has resulted in loss of jobs and denying the public access to right information.
They urged the government to waive taxes on the internet to foster information access by the public.