PRESS freedom monitoring officers from 11 East African countries have raised the red flag about the media crackdown currently undrway in Uganda. In a statement issued in Kampala, the officers called on the Ugandan government to respect its stated commitment to media freedom.
The statement reads:
We, press freedom monitoring officers drawn from 11 member-countries of the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), meeting in Kampala, Uganda, 29-30 September 2009, deplore the manner in which the authorities in Uganda have continued to violate the rights of journalists and the media in the past two months, which we find worrying, unacceptable and an affront to freedom of expression- a fundamental human right.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Without any reservation, we call upon the government of Uganda to demonstrate its stated commitment to democracy and to immediately lift the ban it imposed on four privately-owned radios, on 11 September 2009, and the ban on live debate programmes in response to the protests that rocked Kampala within that week. Also, it is very sad that seven journalists were hurt during the riots, and that over 200 journalists are currently jobless following the closure of the radios.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
We also note with great concern that following the riots, a radio journalist, Kalundi Sserumaga, was detained by police for over 48 hours before being charged with the contentious sedition offence.
Also, we note with great concern that seven journalist colleagues from the independent Monitor newspaper are facing various charges in court ranging from sedition to fraud and criminal libel.
As press freedom monitors in the eastern Africa region, we note with great interest that the Ugandan media is over-regulated, with the existence of three media regulatory organs (Communications Commission, Broadcasting Council and Media Council), making media operations in the country difficult.
Express our concern about the proposed Communications Interception law, currently being discussed within parliament.
In the spirit of solidarity and in respect to the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, we condemn the continued harassment of our journalist colleagues in Uganda.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Kampala, Uganda, on 30 September 2009
Tervil Tom Okoko
Regional Coordinator for Media Freedom, Advocacy and Research
Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA)
B.P 4099, Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti
Mobile: +254-734 09 32 75
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