WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY:Journalist Must Learn to Speak Out for their Rights

Warders Beating Journalists
Warders Beating Journalists

Media practitioners in Uganda are slow in advocating for their rights to fair payment and an enabling working environment, even as they continually strive to ensure that members of the public attain their rights and freedoms.

While marking the World Press Freedom Day  Friday in Kampala, Kakonge Kambarage, Commissioner in the Ministry of Information and National Dialogue, said that it was unfortunate that a journalist in Uganda could earn as less as 90,000 shillings.

Even as he challenged journalists to stand up for their rights, Kambarage was categorical that they should publish researched and factual information.

He was concerned that frequently journalist in Uganda were publishing unethical, libelous slanderous and pornographic material, which came in clash with existing laws  on Freedom of Expression and of the media in Uganda.

But, David Ouma Balikoowa, a media consultant, says journalists in Uganda continue to work against challenges like self-censorship and a restrictive legislation. In addition, media owners affiliated to the ruling class shun guests that present views critical of the ruling regime.

Ouma said more often the state has blamed a free and independent media as blasphemous, or destroying public order, but such accusations are meant to intimidate the work of journalists.

He said that the media in Uganda can only be free if owners and practitioners go beyond the fear of such intimidation.

While Geoffrey Ssebagala, Coordinator of Human Rights Network, explained that journalists in Uganda were still facing harassment, intimidation and attacks. He added that often journalists have lost their equipment when they clash with law enforcement authorities.

He called for the creation of legal avenues to deal with infringements on media freedom especially asking the media to stop suppressing critical view points by stereotyping them as rebels.

As enshrined in article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human rights, the Media is guaranteed freedom to be able to work in an environment that is independent, transparent to promote a democratic society.

The World Press Freedom Day has been marked since 1993 on 3rd of May. The Media dialogue themed Speak: Securing freedom of Expression in All Media’’, was organized by the Uganda Media Development foundation.

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