Kampala, 21st /August/2012; one year after Uganda was reviewed in October 2011, the facts on the ground show glaring non-compliance to the implementation of freedom of expression and information (FOE-I) recommendations.
According to an Annual Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report on the FOE-I released by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), the period from October 2011 to July 2012 has witnessed over 60 journalists being attacked and some summoned for questioning by various state agencies, while many are facing trumped up charges in various courts of law – despite of the fact that the Human Rights Council recommended the dropping of all such cases.
While releasing the report in Kampala, the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala decried the situation where the Uganda Police Force topped the list of perpetrators of the freedom of expression and media rights. The police force was implicated in over 50% of the cases. The police were followed by state house operatives, faith based organizations and unfortunately the Judiciary which is supposed to be the custodian of justice.
“Much as we applaud the State for the concession made during the actual review and at the adoption proceedings on 16th March 2012, we are greatly concerned that the UPR has not fully achieved its objectives especially in Uganda, as the situation of FOE and journalists’ wellbeing is continuously deteriorating” said Wokulira.
He said that the few government’s achievements in protecting and promoting FOE-I are faced with erosion as the state holds onto the Legislature for passing draconian laws that affect or threaten the basic human rights like; The proposed Public Management Bill, The NGO (Amendment) Bill, The Press and Journalists Act and the proposed bill (2010), The Regulations of Interception of Communications Act, The Computer Misuse Act, The Anti-Terrorism Act and The Police Act, among others.
HRNJ-Uganda called upon the State to comply with the recommendations by dropping all charges against media practitioners, putting in place measures to facilitate the visit to Uganda of the UN special Rapporteur on FOE, end the culture of impunity by reprimanding errant police and security officers who continuously orchestrate attacks against journalists and put in place urgent measures to safeguard the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly.HRNJ-Uganda committed to engage with this new UN mechanism to ensure that the freedom of expression and information are better respected, protected and promoted in Uganda.