By Norah Mukimba
Journalists and partners who converged to celebrate the World Press Freedom day of 2018 have called upon government to come up with disciplinary measures against its agents that have been pointed out as the leading violators of journalists’ rights.
The function held under the theme “Keeping Power in Check, Media Justice and the Rule of Law”, the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and the chief guest at this function have applauded the media for acting as a watchdog in exposing various activities to the public which are not easy to be identified by the public.
“You have shown us a lot of things happening in the community including Nalufenya which attracted our attention and we discussed it in Parliament. We need to find means of helping you overcome challenges affecting you in line of duty,” stated the speaker.
She further called upon the journalists to join hands and put in place a fund that will help journalists who are victims of human rights violation to push their cases in courts of law.
“I have not seen any conviction of anybody who violated the rights of journalists,” wondered Kadaga.
The Ambasador of Denmark Mogens Pedersen on behalf of European Union members said that from their findings, it was established that a lot of human rights violation on journalists by various agencies have not been reported.
He added that limited freedom of Press greatly affects the operating environment of Media practitioners.
Mr Julius Osegu, the board Chairman of Human Rights Network for journalists (HRNJ) said that such events are held to provide an opportunity for accountability to press rights in the past period.
“On a daily basis a number of journalists are being battered and tortured in course of their duties and several cases are being recorded but we want to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their acts,” Osegu added.
Chairperson of Uganda Human Rights commission Meddie Kaggwa pointed out that it’s through the media reports that they have been able to follow up on cases involving Human rights violation.
He asked the Speaker of Parliament to work hand in hand with concerned parties to work on redundant laws and those which were declared unconstitutional so that people may not be charged against them.
Robert Kagolo, the president of Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) asked the government to ensure safety for journalists especially in these days when they operate under fear.
“Most journalists when they go the field they are not sure on whether they will return back home safely.”
Kagolo later on called upon fellow journalists to be professional in their operations so that they may avoid repercussions like being dragged to court as well as apologies from defamation.
In response to the above, the head of Uganda Media Center Mr Ofwono Opondo who represented the minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze pointed out that a lot has happened in the media industry like closure of media houses but called upon journalists to always report violation cases to Police for investigation.
He further said that the government is facing a challenge that most media houses are privately owned and they can’t run stories against owner’s interest.
“As government we welcome criticism and we shall address all areas which we have found wanting. Since Police has been in spot light Government has directed Uganda Police to go all media houses in Uganda to have an interface with the operators,” Opondo stated.
He further more adviser journalists not to carry out any physical attack to Police men but should embark on joining professional bodies which can guard their interests.
However, Press freedom Day was declared by the UN General Assembly that sat in Ghana in 1993 and the main celebrations have been held in Accra Ghana.