By Uganda Vanguard
KAMPALA – Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) has condemned in the strongest terms possible the directive by the regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to sack 39 editors that include head of news, producers and heads of programs at 13 radios and television channels.
UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi said they have concerns over the nature of content aired on the broadcast stations particularly during live programs, breaking news and main news bulletins which do not comply with minimum broadcasting standards. The affected media houses include NBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, BBS TV, Salt TV, CBS radio, Akaboozi radio, Kingdom TV, Pearl FM, Radio Sapientia, Capital radio and Beat FM radio. NBS TV has been directed to submit to UCC within three days, recordings of all live programs and news bulletins aired on April 29, 2019, failure of which would lead to punitive sanctions by commission. The concern of Ugandan government is the manner in which independent Television channels and radio stations cover live news in which opposition politicians or people with divergent views are given undue prominence.
In a press statement issued Thursday May 2nd, 2019, Uganda Journalists Union President Ms Lucy Anyango Ekadu said the UCC directive should be condemned in the strongest terms possible and with all the contempt it deserves. She said the latest developments are just reminiscent of the draconian laws by past dictatorial regimes that aim at intimidating journalists, suppressing freedom of expression, stifling voices of dissent, and in a long run muzzle media freedom.
‘’The directive by the UCC is a deliberate move to intimidate journalists, stifle voices of dissent, and suppress divergent views while muzzling media freedom in the country‘’, She said. Ms Lucy said as a watchdog of society the media has a duty to communication to the public independently, objectively and responsibly using a multiplicity of sources at their disposal without fear or favour.
‘’ We have noted growing cases of press freedom violations in Uganda with impunity where many journalists are intimidated, beaten, tortured, arrested and detained sometimes incommunicado by security agencies,” she said.
Uganda Journalists Union calls on President Yoweri Museveni to rescind the UCC decision which has been condemned by global journalists with Uganda ranked among worst Press Freedom violators in the world. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Observatory of Human Rights, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Media Support (IMS), the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ). Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Kenya Editors Guild, Al Jazeera Media Network, BBC World Service, Freedom House, Article 19, Centre for Media Ethics, among others have shown solidarity with Ugandan journalists. Globally journalists will mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2019 with the main event taking place at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.