The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday vigorously condemned the clamp down on the media in Uganda. According to the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), police on 20 May, besieged two privately owned newspapers and cut off two radio stations from the air in the capital city, Kampala.
“This is a real affront on media freedom. Uganda is definitely becoming a country where press freedom abuses and violations are widely perpetrated by the police with total impunity. This must stop mmediately,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.
According to the UJU, heavily armed policemen on 20 May surrounded the “Daily Monitor” newspaper offices in Kampala, which is owned by Monitor Publications and besieged the premises allowing no one to enter or come out. No official reasons were given for this act but UJU said quoting sources that the police were looking for evidence against an army general who recently questioned President Yoweri Museveni’s alleged plan to have his son succeed him.
On the same day, police ordered for the switching off of two radio stations namely KFM and Dembe FM, both also owned by Monitor Publications. According to the UJU, as the “Daily Monitor” was being overrun by the Police another raid was being carried out on the premises of “Red Pepper” another independent newspaper.
“The raid on the newspaper is aimed at intimidating and suppressing the Press from reporting issues independently, objectively and responsibly. If there is any crime against the journalists then aggrieved parties should seek legal redress,” said UJU President, Lucy Anyango Ekadu.
The IFJ is deeply concerned about the continued degradation of press freedom and freedom of expression in Uganda and calls on the Government of President Yoweri Museveni to ensure that the safety of journalists is guaranteed while executing their duties.
The Government of Uganda must be able to create the enabling environment for the media to flourish in relation to its obligations on the international instruments that it has signed and ratified guaranteeing the freedom of expression. It could be recalled that two weeks ago, the IFJ condemned the arrest of James Kasirivu of Endigito Radio who is detained incommunicado without any charges against him.
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries