Taylor Krauss, an American journalist, freelance filmmaker, and founder of the testimonial website Voices of Rwanda, traveled to Uganda roughly two weeks ago to conduct some filming in hopes of pitching footage later to various media outlets. Krauss is no stranger to the region; he has been traveling back and forth to the country for nine years. But now that he has been arrested, held for three days without charge, had his equipment confiscated, and finally forced out of the country, this probably marks his last visit. It probably also marks bad news for the press in Uganda.
Fifty-five journalists fled their homes in the past year with help from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most common reason to go into exile was the threat of violence, such as in Somalia and Syria, two of the most deadly countries in the world for the profession. Others fled the threat of prison, especially in Iran, where the government deepened its crackdown ahead of elections. A CPJ special report by Nicole Schilit
Journalists are back to work at Uganda's leading privately owned daily, The Monitor, after a 10-day siege of their newsroom by police. But that does not mean it is business as usual for the nation's press. The paper's owners at the Nation Media Group evidently begged and negotiated for its reopening--signaling to other media houses that they should toe the government line or face a similar stranglehold. Although the deliberations were successful in returning the paper to the newsstands, the long-term costs may prove exorbitant.
Nairobi, May 29, 2013--Ugandan police on Tuesday assaulted and detained several journalists who were among a crowd of demonstrators protesting the government's closure of four independent news outlets, according to news reports and local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said today that the police actions only highlight the government's continuing effort to suppress information concerning a supposed assassination plot.
"Having silenced news outlets for coverage of a critical public issue, Ugandan authorities are now trying to suppress protesters who want to call attention to the censorship," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "The indefinite closure of these media outlets serves as a daily reminder that the government wants to deny its citizens important sources of news and information."
The Pan African Parliament's (PAP) launch of a media freedom campaign through a "Dialogue on Media Freedom in Africa" in mid-May marks an important and welcome starting point. For too long, media freedom has been divorced from the debate around development and democratization when it has an integral role to play in promoting transparency, underpinning good governance, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions.
Nairobi, May 21, 2013--Ugandan police surrounded the Kampala offices of two private newspapers for seven hours on Monday, barring access to the premises, disabling printing presses, and effectively halting publication indefinitely, according to news reports. The police said they had search warrants to find documents related to a letter written by an army official that described an assassination plot.
While Uganda's politicians and social media are abuzz over a sensational letter reportedly written by a top security official about a high-level assassination plot, police have dutifully harassed the mainstream press in a bid to suppress the chatter.
Police assaulted and obstructed numerous journalists covering opposition demonstrations, repeating an abusive pattern set during the previous year’s presidential campaign. Police officials repeatedly professed determination to investigate the attacks but ultimately held no officer publicly accountable. Several journalists began to seek redress in the courts, although no cases had been resolved by late year. President Yoweri Museveni signed the Uganda Communications Act in September. The measure ostensibly merged two regulatory bodies, but it also imposed vague new requirements that broadcasters respect “public morality” and “ethical broadcasting standards.” Press freedom organizations said the law also granted the Information Ministry broad powers to modify broadcast licenses at will.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.