Uganda: IFJ calls on regulator to halt suspensions of broadcast managers

Uganda’s media regulatory authority, the Communications Commission (UCC), has ordered the suspension of over 30 broadcast managers on 1st May. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) in calling on the government to lift the suspension immediately and ensure a safe and secure working environment for journalists.

Opposition figurehead Hon Kagulanyi Robert aka Bobi Wine walks handcuffed together with another prisoner before boarding the prison bus leading him to Luzira maximum prison in Kampala on April 29, 2019. Ugandan police arrested pop star turned MP Bobi Wine on April 29, barely two days after lifting the house arrest of a potential challenger to incumbent veteran President, and placed him in custody over a protest he organised last year, his lawyer said. Nicholas BAMULANZEKI / AFP

On 1st May, the UCC ordered the sacking of over 30 editors including head of news, producers and heads of programs of 13 radios and television channels in Uganda. 

The targeted media are Akaboozi FM, BBS TV, Beat FM, Bukedde TV, Capital FM, CBS FM, KIngdom TV, NBS TV, NTV, Pearl FM, Salt TV, Sapientia FM and Simba FM.     

The UCC decision follows the roles the journalists played in reporting about the arrest of opposition figure Bobi Wine.  

In its decision the regulator raises “concerns over the nature of content aired on these broadcast stations particularly during live programmes, breaking news, and main news bulletins which do not comply with the Minimum broadcasting standards.” 

The directive by the UCC is a deliberate move to intimidate journalists, stifle voices of dissent, and suppress divergent views while muzzling media freedom in the country‘’, said UJU President Lucy Anyango Ekadu. “ As a watchdog of society the media has a duty to communication to the public independently, objectively and responsibly using a multiplicity of sources at their disposal without fear or favour. ‘’

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “ The Ugandan people deserves a free press and what we see here is a clear attempt to muzzle our colleagues . Journalists must be able to work in an environment free of fear and threats. Coverage of politics requires objectivity, fact-checking and balance, but it also requires that all parties are given the opportunity to speak. As we celebrate today’s World Press Freedom Day, we call on the UCC to revoke its decision immediately and express our solidarity to our Ugandan colleagues”.


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