HRNJ Uganda discusses impact of COVID-19 with media sector

This statement was originally published on on 15 September 2021.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has held a meeting with Managers, News Editors and senior reporters of Gulu District on 14 September 2021 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the media fraternity on the media within the Acholi sub region.

The HRNJ-Uganda team, which was composed of the Executive Director Ssempala Robert, Head of Programmes and Deputy ED Magoola Moses and the Legal Officer Nandudu Diana Flavia Okia, met the media team at Kakanyero Deluxe hotel, Gulu.

Mr. Ssempala explained to the participants that the meeting was part of a national outreach to different parts of the country, to generate a comprehensive national report to act as a tool to strategize on how to situate and plan for the media during and post COVID-19 pandemic hardships. The report will be shared with various key stakeholders in a bid to mitigate the adverse effects on the media.

Mr. Magoola noted the urgent need for new approaches that would ensure tangible solutions to the existential challenges the media sector in Uganda faces.

Some of the salient issues that arose during the meeting include; contracting the COVID-19 disease, the decline in revenue collected leading to staff pay cuts, lay off of staff, arrests and detention by security forces during the enforcement of curfew and denial of access to news within the COVID-19 task-forces among others. One of the journalists noted that a colleague who was returning from work at about 8 pm was arrested by security who ordered him to move around with them so he could ‘cover all their night operations’ while enforcing curfew. He was released at 2:00am to go back home. The media team decried neglect and sidelining in all government COVID-19 interventions.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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