The media under their umbrella body, Uganda Journalists’ Association (UJA) are set to hold a protest on Friday this week to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the continued brutality against journalists by the security agencies.
This was revealed on Wednesday by the UJA President, Hajji Kazibwe Bashir Mbaziira who rallied all media practitioners to participate in what has been dubbed the Black Friday protest.
“Following the continued brutality and arrest of journalists on lawful duty by the State security agencies, UJA executive on Tuesday evening resolved to petition the Speaker of Parliament on Friday at 9am,” read a press statement issued Wednesday.
Kazibwe said that the petition shall be preceded by a peaceful demonstration by journalists who will walk to Parliament.
According to Kazibwe, all journalists will be required to assemble at the Constitutional Square a head of the peaceful demonstration to Parliament.
Some of the notable demands entailed in the petition is a request to the Speaker of Parliament and the entire legislature to prevail over the security agencies so that they refrain from the beastly acts against journalists.
The media is also demanding that perpetrators including errant officers be investigated, tried and prosecuted as well as compensation of journalists whose equipment have been damaged in the course of their work.
“It’s clear to note that the last two months has been a troublesome month for members of the press who seem to have been in running battles with security agencies,” the UJA President added.
This comes a month after two journalists were brutally arrested during August’s elections in Arua. Days later, some other journalists were beaten and arrested by the military as they covered the ‘Free Bobi Wine’ riots in Kampala.
Just last week, on the day of Bobi Wine’s return from the U.S, reporters who had been deployed in Entebbe to cover the happenings were blocked from accessing the airport while some others were briefly confined for questioning.
Yesterday, some five journalists were arrested while at UNCHR offices where refugees were protesting against insecurity in their camps. The reporters were later released with no charge.
“In this particular regard, UJA calls upon all journalists in the country to join this peaceful demonstration not just a show of solidarity but a step towards fighting for and defending our constitutional right”.
They demand that their right to access and disseminate information be guaranteed by authorities.
UJA President said that during the planned Black Friday protest, journalists will wear black clothes as they mourn their lost freedoms.
He appealed to media owners, Managers, Editors, Reporters, Writers, Presenters and all other stakeholders to raise their voices in pursuit of a free and responsible Ugandan Media Industry to join in the struggle.
“We continue to condemn the beastly acts against journalists since we are not anyone’s enemy but citizens’ servants,” Kazibwe said.
Uganda dropped five places to emerge in 117th position in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index which rates the freedoms of journalists in the different countries world over.
The Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in 180 countries reflected the growing animosity towards the media, openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies.
Last year, Uganda was ranked 112th globally (the least position being countries where the press enjoys its freedoms). However, this year, Uganda has fallen 5 places in the rankings.
Regional countries in EAC performed better than Uganda with exception of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.