By Waswa Tenywa
As the media fraternity in Uganda prepares to join the rest of the world to commemorate the world press freedom day, Human rights network for journalist Uganda has launched its 9th press freedom index report for the year 2017 putting police in the front sit concerning the violation of media freedom followed by Uganda communications commission UCC.
In the report unleashed, 133 cases of assault and violation of media freedom were registered with 83 cases being committed by police and 50 cases by Uganda communications commission making a percentage of 5.3% and judiciary emerged third with 3.1% in the violation of media freedom.
In his submission during the launch of the report to the media and human rights defenders at imperial royale hotel in Kampala, Robert Sempala the Chief Executive Officer at HRNJ-Uganda made recommended that the police leadership must take measures to ensure that the officers implicated in violating journalists are charged personally and surrender them in all crimes however minor they are for action over human rights violation.
Sempala also recommended that human rights defenders should engage the police force administration to develop a strategy of training police officers on media rights and the role of the media in the society.
On the issue of Uganda communications commission, Sempala appealed to parliament to review the powers of UCC with a view of restructuring it adding that UCC has become to big in controlling the vital communications sector single handedly.
‘’UCC has become is using the license issue to armpit operators by scaring them with closer which has become one of the biggest threat in as far as freedom of expression is concerned.
Speaking at the Press Freedom Index Report launch, Danish Ambassador to Uganda Mogens Pedersen who was the chiefguest at the launch said urged the respective state agencies to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of all human rights.
Meanwhile Med Kaggwa the chairman of Human Rights Commission stressed that police has also been the front benchers in the annual human rights commission reports as major violators of the human rights and expressed concern that the police as beauty bearers continue to stable.
Kaggwa said as human rights defenders they will not tire to engage the police and other authorities to ensure that police re-claim their due place as enablers of realization of human rights including media freedom.
Kaggwa also pointed out redundant laws that are blocking media freedom including the laws that were declared unconstitutional by the courts but they are still being used to harass media practitioners.
Kaggwa therefore called upon relevant authorities to ensure that the legal framework is condussive to the effective media framework adding that impunity is a greatest challenge of human rights in Uganda and the world atlarge where some perpetrators are promoted and some goes away with no punishment which sends a wrong signal to other duty bearers.
The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration.