World Press Freedom Day: Journalists decry security brutality & poor working conditions

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NEWS– Journalists have been advised to always find alternative sources of livelihood besides their profession earnings if they want to succeed in their lives.

This was sounded by Mr Prosper Twebaze, the Chairperson of Greater Bushenyi Media Association in his press statement on Monday 3rd May 2021 as the world commemorated world press freedom day.

Greater Bushenyi Media Association brings together journalists and media practitioners from districts of Bushenyi, Sheema, Mitooma, Rubirizi and Buhweju.

Citing the recent wave of COVID-19 that forced most media houses to downscale and lay off some workers, Mr Twebaze said that blow was an eye-opener to the journalists to think about another form of earning apart from their professional jobs.

He however called for freedom in most countries where media practitioners are being oppressed arguing that in more than 130 countries worldwide, the press is not free where more than 134 media personnel are held on charges that should have been dropped year back.

“The press coalition continues to push for their freedom but everything falls on deaf ears” he said.

In Uganda, a report by Uganda Human Rights Network showed that during the 2021 general elections campaigns, some journalists were either arrested on false accusations, detained without trial, battered by stick welding LDU(S), intimidated and others had physical attacks.

“All the above are regrettable while we continue to press hard for a better relationship with security agencies and the government”, he explained.

“More than 135 complaints were lodged by journalists over their violation by security agencies in Uganda in the recently concluded general elections, we are ofcourse sorry for those members of our profession who violate professional code of conduct “, Mr Twebaze added.

Speaking at the same day, Felix Twinomugisha commonly known as Ekirengabazaana, a broadcasting journalist with Rukiga fm congratulated all journalists upon reaching their Freedom day but decried the poor working conditions set by most media houses’ proprietors.

“Most media houses are owned by private individuals who treat workers in an improper way, some journalists work for years and even fail to be paid because they work with no appointment letters, some over work and are paid less, others are forced to present biased reports which at the end kill their future so I think Media Rights Associations should engage the proprietors and educate them on how to handle media personnel”, Mr Twinomugisha explained.

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is an annual event observed on 3rd May gazeted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day was themed “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind.