President Yoweri Museveni has said Government shall continue defending the rights of journalists, in order to foster socio-economic development. The President made the remarks, in a speech read on his behalf by Minister of Information, ICT and Communications Frank Tumwebaze, during the marking of World Press Freedom Day in Kampala, last Wednesday.
“As government, we take pride in having to put in place safety mechanisms for journalism to thrive and flourish to the admirable levels we all continue to enjoy. Our resolute is that we shall do everything possible within our means to support, protect and defend the rights of journalists in Uganda to do their work”, President Museveni’s speech reads in part.
He added that; until the coming to power of the NRM in 1986, the rights of free press fredom were highly trampled on. He cited a few independent media; like the Weekly Topic newspaper and Munnansi among others, which had been closed by the then government. “There was one government owned television and the only national radio, Radio Uganda. The NRM government took deliberate decisions to liberalize the media when everybody else was still cagey in the whole continent”
“I take the opportunity to congratulate the media fraternity world over in General and Uganda’s media practitioners in particular, for this world press freedom day 2017. I thank you for the work you do, the stories you tell and the debates you moderate. Your work has directly and indirectly helped government to create awareness in various sectors. An informed society is an empowered one. Thank you!” he added.
President Museveni in addition called upon media houses to adhere to professional ethics and code of conduct, such that they retain their role of being the Fourth Estate. “I appeal to you Journalists to invest in research and knowledge so as to avoid regurgitating unverified content from those that sponsor it for selfish gains”, he further pointed out.
On his part, Minister Tumwebaze called upon media practitioners to believe in engagement and fair rules of play in the media. “As minister of information i believe in engagement and fair rules of play in the media. Let’s all focus on this”. He said.
He called for need to refocus on development of journalism; where they are all key players in the socio-economic transformation of the country. “For any meaningful development to take place, the media must be involved optimally. Telling a good story about Uganda is not a favor to anybody but a noble patriotic duty of every citizen”, he added.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
Also present were representatives from Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Uganda Human Rights Commission, Heads of International Agencies, President of the Journalists Association, Editors and Media managers among others.