Stakeholders joing HRNJU’s national cordinator, Mr Ssempala to officially launch the report at Imperial Royale in Kampala

A new report released by one of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda’s board members; Human Rights Network of Journalists in Uganda (HRNJ-U) has ranked police as the leading violator of journalists’ rights.

The report titled Tough Times: Political Intolerance Stifles Media covers 2016, a year that coincided with the presidential and general election documents violations of rights of journalists by various players.

The report highlights among others, cases of assaults on journalists, arrests and detentions, intimidation, malicious damage and confiscation of journalists’ equipment among others.

While releasing the Press Freedom Index report, Mr Robert Ssempala, the HRNJ-U national coordinator noted that 135 cases were reported and followed up by HRNJ-U.

Mr Ssempala noted that of the 135 cases documented in the period under review, the police accounted for 83 cases representing 61 percent of the total cases recorded.

The police was followed by mob action against journalists which accounted for 17percent.

Other violators, according to the report include the Prisons and the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces; both security agencies. Individual persons and media owners were also cited as having harassed media practitioners as they carried out their duties.

Mr Edward Serucaca, the advocacy and networking officer at the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda says that the wave of attacks on journalists have taken a new twist and area a big concern to all Human Rights Defenders.

“With attacks taking a new shape in form of kidnaps, office break-ins and the use of Judicial system to gag media houses is a direct affront on freedom of expression and opinion,” Mr Serucaca who represented NCHRDU at the launch says.

He adds, “We implore authorities to consider Journalists acting ethically and professionally in due course of their work as integral players in the development of any state that professes democratic values and principles.”

Mr Edward Serucaca, the Advocay and Networking office at NCHRDU receives a special copy of the report form the HRNJU board chairman

Police responds

Mr Emilian Kayima, the police spokesman for the Kampala Metropolitan area represented the force at the launch. He said that the police have always been in the ring and accused, adding that it’s high time the trend is reversed.

“We have got the report and we shall study all aspects of the report and act accordingly,” said Mr Kayima adding that, “we expect a betterreport next year.”

Meanwhile, the USAID director of democracy, rights and governance, Mr Nils Mueller, appealed to police to   investigate offences against journalists and bring the culprits to book.

Citing recent statistics on the HRNJ-U website, Mr Mueller said that 27 cases of media violations have been recorded this year, including 11 assaults and 12 arrests among others.

“We urge the Uganda government to ensure that it fulfills its obligations to meet the international freedom of expression standards,” Mr Mueller who presided over the launch said.

Portioning the cases

Daily Monitor, a daily independent newspaper reported the highest number of cases (14) followed by the government owned New Vision (11), and NBS TV (9). Bukedde TV, a sister television station to New Vision followed with (8) while Daily Monitor’s sister TV station NTV registered (7) cases.