HRNJ-Uganda Press Freedom Index, November 2010 - April 2011

News and Press Release
Originally published

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kampala, 2 May 2011 - The safety and security of journalists in Uganda has witnessed its greatest decline to the lowest ebb, says HRNJ-Uganda's Press Freedom Index (PFI) report 2011.

The report, released today, indicates that 55 journalists were subjected to different forms of violence. In particular, physical attacks on individual journalists are on the rise with 36 documented cases. The PFI report, which highlights the plight of journalists and showcases the environment under which the media operate, covers a period of six months, between November 2010 and April 2011.

Although supporters of different political parties committed numerous attacks against journalists, especially during the February 2011 elections, the Uganda Police Force - which is supposed to protect journalists - leads the list of tormentors with 19 cases.

Others responsible for violations include: supporters of political parties with 12 cases, the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) with 9 cases, individuals with 7 cases, media owners with 3, university students with 2, Residents District Commissioners (RDCs) with 2 and an unknown attacker with 1.

The unlawful actions against journalists of the UPDF and its subordinate institutions, including the Joint Anti Terrorism Task Force (JATT) and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), have increased and range from kidnapping, incommunicado detention, arbitrary arrest, and confiscation of the journalists' tools of the trade, to erasing photos or video clips.

Thirty-six cases of physical attacks against journalists out of 55 cases were recorded between 1 November 2010 and 26 April 2011. Other incidents committed against journalists in Uganda include: kidnapping and incommunicado detention (1 instance), direct threats (7), arbitrary arrest and detention (5), journalists sacked under duress (3), false charges (1), and 1 camera was destroyed.

"We are saddened that no attacker has ever been brought to justice. Even the few, who were arrested, were released on orders of either Resident District Commissioners or District Internal Security Officers (DISO), as occurred in Aleptong district. The number of physical attacks is worrying because it is the highest recorded in six months," said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

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Download the report: press_index_report_April_2011.pdf (688 KB)