The figure is the highest among victims of media freedom violations in the country in just a year according to the new report titled “Systematic Threats to Journalists, Activists, and Freedom of Expression”.
At least 21 journalists suffered
injuries resulting from assaults in their line of duty in one year alone, a new research
by the African Center for Media Excellence (ACME) reveals. The figure is the highest among victims
of media freedom violations in the country in just a year according to the new report
titled “Systematic Threats to Journalists, Activists, and Freedom of Expression”.
The report presented to
Journalists in Gulu City Wednesday during a training to examine the status of
safety for journalists in the Acholi Sub-region was compiled between August
2022 and August 2023. Presenting the research report to
journalists at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC), Brian Ssenabulya, said the
journalists assaulted were part of 24 other victims of media freedom violations
across the country. Three of the victims were politicians.
The research captured 57
incidences of media freedom violations during the period out of which 81
percent of the victims were male while females constituted 19 percent of the
total incidents documented. The majority of the victims
according to the report were journalists with 61 percent of cases, followed by
politicians with 21 percent of cases while activists came in third place at 9
percent. Ordinary people and medical interns made up 5 Percent and 4 Percent respectively
of the total incidents registered.
According to the report, arrests made
up the highest percentage of the threats (42 percent) followed by physical
assault at 30 percent. Other natures of the threats included written threats at
5 percent, denial of access (5 percent), kidnap (4 percent), using the law to
initiate legal action (3 percent), detention (3 percent), suspension of journalists
(2 percent), obstructing news circulation (2 percent), surveillance (2 percent),
and switching off of radio frequency (2 percent).
The report also reveals that a total
of 103 people were arrested or detained during the period of which the biggest
number were politicians (33), followed by activists (25) and journalists (20).
Others included medical interns (15) and ordinary persons (10). Police were however found to be the
biggest perpetrators with 30 cases (representing 53 percent) followed by other
state security agencies including the army with 10 cases and the general public
For instance, out of the 30 cases
perpetrated by police, 11 were against journalists/media practitioners, another
11 against politicians/political actors, four against activists two against
ordinary persons, and another 2 incidents against medical interns.
Alfred Oryem, the Programme
Manager at NUMEC in his presentation also noted that 32 cases of
media violations against journalists were registered in Northern Uganda in 2022
alone in the form of harassment, threats, and physical assault. Apolo Kakaire, ACME's Programme
Manager, Communications & Advocacy says journalists remain a target by
security and other agencies because of the front-line nature of their work and
exposure of what others don’t like being exposed.
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Kakaire says there is a need for
media owners to be more supportive of their journalists coupled with media
solidarity to ensure the safety of all journalists in the country. Fred Kidima, the Aswa West Deputy
Regional Police Commander however called on journalists to exercise
professionalism while conducting their duty. He says while the country’s constitution
guarantees freedom of expression, the same shouldn’t be abused to incite hatred
and violence that deters violence in the community.
According to the 2022 Global Press
Freedom Index Report by Reporters Without Borders, Uganda ranks 132 out of 180