“Free Press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights, “Antonio Guterres.
Without Press freedom, there is no democracy. If people’s views cannot be heard, then their freedom and voice is outrightly being murdered by the state. The Ugandan Press and journalists have been openly and mercilessly suppressed, the most recent being the suspension of 39 Journalists from 13 media houses by the “Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on claims of misinterpretation of information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead/ harm the public during broadcasts and main news bulletins,”-TheObserver.
If the people in power cannot stand being held accountable by the citizenry and more so the press, it is clear evidence of a despotic government which has no respect for true democracy and people’s freedom of expression and speech yet Article 29 of the Ugandan constitution grants everyone a right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include press other media.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is the role of media in elections and democracy. How will the media in Uganda perform its obligation if it is suppressed ?
The Ugandan government seems to be allergic to the views of the opposition in the media and any public discussions that critic it. This is why laws like the Public Order and management Act (POMA) grant the Inspector General of Police wide discretion to permit or disallow public meetings. This has been used by the police to prohibit public gatherings and conversations in the country which has in turn greatly affected many useful discussions that would feed in the governance and development of this country. Political figures/ influencers and activists have been sabotaged using this Law, the most recent being Hon Kyagulanyi aka HE Bobi Wine.
The media has been pinned for covering such stories as those of Hon Kyagulanyi and others. If we must attain democracy in Uganda. The government must stop harassing the media and journalists. The government must let the media speak. Let the media write. Let the people speak.
Unfortunately, the Ugandan NRM government is not about to let the Media run freely therefore the people must keep rising to defend their rights and freedoms. The time is now when we should all rise up and defend our Country against its government.
As we celebrate The world Press Freedom day, we stand in solidarity with the Ugandan media fraternity whose press freedom is being undermined by the institutions that are meant to promote and protect them.