It’s Government’s Obligation To Protect Journalists, HRNJ-U Reports

medicine health geneva;”>HRNJ-U released a report on Thursday on the safety and security of journalists in Uganda at Speke Hotel in Kampala.

“The government’s failure to protect journalists is rendering the journalism profession most dangerous in Uganda. HRNJ-Uganda is greatly concerned by the worsening trend of the safety and security of media practitioners in Uganda and government’s reluctance to bring this situation to a halt,” notes the report.

This comes at a time when the journalists will be celebrating World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

HRNJ National Coordinator, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala noted that the government’s reluctance is rendering the journalism profession to be at a danger in Uganda.


“The restrictive regime, impunity, lack of professionalism among security agencies, infiltration, impersonation, use of hate speech by politicians including the president, lack of minimum wage, failure to understand the role of media and targeted beatings that have intensified and taken a new dimension, are a major cause for alarm,” he noted.

Ssebaggala further pointed out that the volatile nature of insecurity against journalists therefore requires that security should be conceptualized in a wider scope other than just mere physical protection from harm.

“It should stretch to involve the psychological security of the journalists in regard to their ability to do journalistic work without the constant lingering fear that they are being watched or that a mere mistake in execution of their work will be an opportunity for the state to come after them,” he stated.

He said non-state actors are also becoming perpetrators of violence on journalists, threatening their safety and security at an unprecedented rate.

The report further reveals that from the use of repressive legal regimes to harass journalists and threaten their security and safety, state agents -especially the police have taken on direct physical attacks against journalists including shootings and attempted shootings.

A critical analysis of journalists’ safety and security trends and patterns in the past two years reveals that there has been impartiality of the media and Multi-party Politics.

“Since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in Uganda, the media has repeatedly been accused of taking sides and being partisan in their reporting, siding more with the opposition,” said Ssebaggala.

He noted that there has been increased culture of impunity for the last two years as the powerful get away with their illegal deeds committed against journalists.

He added: “Most of the causalities within the media fraternity in the past two years are fallen prey to vagaries that could have been avoided if they were well trained in safety and security management and provided the right gear for protection.”

Journalists have however, called upon government to take seriously its obligation to protect journalists. “Government should implement its commitment made to the United Nations during Universal Periodic Review Mechanism to investigate and bring perpetrators of violence against journalists to justice,” noted Ssebaggala.

They also recommended for massive sensitization campaigns on dangers that face journalists and how it affects the democratization process of the country.

“There is need to expose journalists to refresher courses with special bias on safety and security in the practitioners’ view,” he added.

Ssebaggala noted that these recommendations are strategic interventions which need immediate attention of the State and the various stakeholders to redeem the media in Uganda.

He has also called upon the public and journalist to join in the procession from the independence square at 8:00am to mark the world press freedom day.

World Press Freedom Day celebrated every year on May 3 was declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

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