United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has implored Ugandan authorities to deliberately protect press freedoms ahead of the 2021 general elections.
Ms. Malac appealed during a World Press Day dialogue at Golf Course hotel in Kampala, “Today, as we have done in the past, the United States urges the Ugandan government to take action, protect and defend press freedoms.”
Citing the violence that marred the Arua By-Election where reporters were violently arrested, as well as the 2016 election social media shutdown, Malac said such actions send a wrong signal.
She added that for the 2021 election to qualify as free and fair, candidates must be allowed to sell their ideas freely and that citizens’ right to information must not be obstructed.
“Efforts to restrict the press and people’s freedom of expression are big steps in the wrong direction,” she warned.
“For an electoral process to qualify as free and fair, citizens must have sufficient access to information including parties, candidates and voting procedures in order to make a valid decision. Elections will only be free if the candidates can freely express themselves”, Malac intimates.
However, she cautioned journalists to always be detail oriented to avoid losing their credibility.