By Peter Townson
Protestors have expressed their dismay at the Ugandan authorities’ attacks on media freedom (AFP)
DCMF has condemned the siege of media houses in Uganda and sent an open letter to the President, Yoweri Museveni requesting clarification over recent events.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) has joined other press groups in condemning the Ugandan authorities’ ongoing crackdown on independent media.
Government forces have surrounded the building housing Monitor newspaper, KFM and Demba radio, as well as the Red Pepper publishing house, preventing journalists from entering and leaving the premises.
Police officers stormed the media houses, claiming to be searching for documents related to an assassination plot which has been covered throughout the Ugandan media. The plot had been highlighted by General David Sejusa, the coordinator of intelligence services, who questioned the significance of President Museveni’s succession plan to the plot.
While government reports have suggested that the operations are related to national security issues, others argue that they have been carried out to send a message to members of the media covering controversial political issues.
DCMF condemns crackdown
Doha Centre for Media Freedom has condemned the Ugandan authorities’ crackdown on the Monitor newspaper and other media outlets. The centre also denounces the secrecy under which these events have taken place, as no official reason has yet been given for the closures.
It is completely unacceptable for the government to effectively besiege media houses which choose to cover stories related to political issues which might not please them.
A healthy society requires a fully functioning and free media comprised of responsible and quality journalists. The Ugandan authorities’ actions have effectively made it impossible for journalists to do their jobs and have severely damaged the standing of the press in the country. This has wide reaching consequences and a negative effect on Ugandan citizens.
DCMF is urging the authorities to immediately put an end to these actions and to enable the outlets to carry out their work properly.
The centre has also sent an open letter to President Yoweri Museveni.
During the International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress 2013 in Amman earlier this week the attendees agreed to “send a strong message” to Musaveni and demand an end to the police siege of media houses.
IPI deputy director Anthony Mills noted: “IPI’s membership, currently gathered in Amman, Jordan for our World Congress, demands an explanation for the actions of Ugandan police against publications of the Monitor group. This siege must end immediately so that Monitor journalists can return to work and continue informing the Ugandan public on matters of public interest.”
The International Federation of Journalists also “vigourously condemned” the “affront on media freedom.”
“Uganda is definitely becoming a country where press freedom abuses and violations are widely perpetrated by the police with total impunity. This must stop immediately,” said IFJ Africa director, Gabriel Baglo.
Source: Doha Centre for Media & Freedom
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