Uganda Press Freedom Attacks Being Exposed

Kampala — Attacks on journalists have escalated in the past six months despite the government’s commitment to adhere to its international human rights obligations, with 32 cases of attacks since the review by the UN Human Rights Council, says HRNJ-Uganda’s new report.

Despite the government’s voluntary commitment to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks, there has been no particular action taken, resulting in an increment in attacks. Print media journalists were most targeted, with 13 attacks, followed by radio journalists, with 11, and 8 from television.

The Freedom of Expression and Information (FOE-I) Country Status Report in relation to the Universal Peer Review Mechanism (UPRM) released by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda on 18 April 2012 in Kampala shows that more than half of the attacks were committed by the police.

The attacks ranged from shooting, physical attack, unlawful arrest and detention/incarceration of journalists, denying access to news scenes, confiscation of equipment, defective and trumped up charges, to verbal threats. The report, the first of its kind in Uganda, is a culmination of a series of literature studies, interviews and consultations undertaken with a view of establishing current FOE-I trends.

This represents a worrying trend of events against the media in Uganda, where the year 2011 witnessed a total of 107 cases of attacks on journalists, compared to 58 in 2010 and 38 in 2009. This is contrary to the six recommendations on media freedoms that the government accepted to uphold and protect.

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