The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its concerns over the closure of four independently-owned radio stations by Uganda Broadcasting Council (UBC) and the suspension of their operating licenses for what it called “flouting rules by inciting people, mainly the Baganda tribe against President Yoweri Museveni, his government and against other tribes”.
“The circumstances within the past few days have been disheartened and it is necessary for all parties concerned to engage in a dialogue to avoid further violence,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office.
On Friday, Independent Radio Two, popularly known as “Akaboozi”, Ssuubi FM radio and the Catholic Church-owned Radio Sapiensa, were taken off air for inciting and promoting sectarianism. The broadcasts by the four had “degenerated into genocide in the making like what prevailed in neighbouring Rwanda”, according to a statement issued by the UBC.
A riotous incident which started on Thuirsday and went on through Friday led to vandalism, looting and indiscriminate killings around Mengo Kingdom area. The government was forced to reinforce the anti- riot Police with the deadly no-nonsense Military Police who fired live bullets into crowds to curb insecurity and bring the situation under control. At least ten people were confirmed dead while another 45 were seriously injured.
Announcing the closure of the four radio stations on Friday, UBC Chairman, Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi, said the suspension of operating licenses for the four radio stations was prompted by their continued contravention of operating rules and regulations. “The four radio stations had abandoned operating rules and were instead inciting the public into hatred for government and promoting sectarianism,” Mutabazi said.
According to the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), an IFJ affiliate, the Uganda Broadcasting Council (UBC) first suspended operating license for the pro-Buganda monarchy Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) on Thursday for “inciting Mengo Kingdom loyalists against the government and for airing sectarian messages aimed at bringing hatred against the Kampala authorities”.
IFJ demands Uganda authorities to foster dialogue with the concerned radio stations in order to find a solution, while at the same time, calling on media houses in Uganda to be more responsible in the execution of their duties by ensuring that they adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession.
For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide