- Media watchdogs condemn what they call "new threats to press freedom from censorship and attack on journalists" in Uganda. They accuse the Kampala government of regressing press freedom in the country.
The Paris-based group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today condemned what it called "renewed threats to press freedom in Uganda." Several incidents had happened lately, they hold.
In particular, the French media watchdogs mentioned a "physical attack on a radio journalist" while she was covering an opposition meeting and "a recent ban on reporting the assets of leading government figures."
- The assets of political leaders are a matter of public interest which the press should be free to report, RSF said in a statement, "while the attack on a journalist was almost certainly carried out by activists of the ruling party," the group added.
Hadija Nakitende, a reporter for 'CBS' radio and Vice-President of the Association of Ugandan Journalists, was allegedly attacked in a Kampala hotel on 7 December while covering a meeting of the Young Ugandan Democrats (YUD), the youth wing of the opposition Democratic Party (DP).
According to RSF, some 15 people suspected of being members of the ruling party had burst in, beat Ms Nakitende and other people present, and smashed a camera belonging to the commercial TV channel 'WBS'.
Uganda's Attorney General, meanwhile, announced on 10 November that the news media are no longer authorised to publish the declarations of assets and liabilities made by the country's political leaders.
He made the announcement a few days after two leading dailies published details of the assets of several ministers and presidential advisers, which they got from the Inspector General of government, with whom leading officials have to file their declarations.
These publications had prompted a formal protest by the Ugandan Vice-President, who said newspapers should not be allowed to publish this information. The Attorney General's office agreed with the Vice-President.
RSF found these incidents to be a serious setback for press freedom in Uganda. "We deplore this regression by the Uganda government, which must adopt measures to ensure greater press freedom and to protect journalists," the states today.
Although Uganda has a vibrant press, including many independent and commercial media, the Kampala government has repeatedly been observed limiting press freedom. In particular, this has included reporting on issues related to the military and the war against the LRA rebels in the north of the country.
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