Adjumani journalists petition gov’t over violation of their rights

ADJUMANI- Concerned journalists from the west Nile region and especially the three districts of Moyo, Adjumani, and Obongi yesterday delivered a petition to the office of the resident district commissioner Adjumani, protesting the manner in which the rights of journalists have been violated.

The petition is part of the activities to mark The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a day dedicated by the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially against journalists.

Delivering the petition on behalf of the journalist in the district of Moyo, Adjumani, and Obongi, Amacha Goli who is the interim chairperson for the association of the journalists said during covid-19, and the general elections, rights of several journalists were violated.

He said in 2020, Scovin Iceta was beaten by police while taking a picture of the police beating a pregnant woman while enforcing presidential directives on covid-19 and another Journalist of Vision Group John Unzima still remains a target for investigating the theft of drugs in the district.

He also revealed that journalists and guests were arrested for discussing the manner in which police were beating women in town and many journalists still face harassment online and offline due to the work that they do.

“Cognisant of the provisions of Article 29 and subsequent sections of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and other international instruments that Uganda is State party to by ratification to uphold press Freedom as a key pillar to progressive societal development,” Amacha said.

The petition in bit reads, We [Journalist in Madi region] by this document having gone through all the stated incidents, demand the following:

First and foremost, an environment that allows media to freely execute its all-important Fourth Estate roles without due infringement from individuals and state actors.

The petitioners further demanded that known perpetrators of all forms of violation and abuse meted against journalists in the region, be brought to book, this is to bring justice and reparation to individual journalists.

A collective educational program is put in place to ensure that Members of security organs thus police, prisons, and the army understand that journalism is not a crime but rather a service.

Above all the state should appreciate and recognise the roles played by the media in service delivery which is a key determinant in development.

“In a bid to attain media freedom in the Madi Sub-region and Uganda as a whole, we the undersigned members believe that fulfilling the above demands will contribute to the holistic structural development of our community, importantly, this shall entrench the culture of open society, and reinforce the value system,” the petition stated.

The deputy resident district commissioner, Swadick Angupale who received the petition in front of his office lauded the journalist for presenting their challenges especially the impunities mated against them by state actors promising to foster and create a good working environment for journalists in the region.

“The media is a key stakeholder in development, we have a lot of challenges of corruption, and bad roads, and it is you the media to investigate, If you have your evidence go ahead and publish or broadcast your story even if it is concerning me,” Angupale said.

Angupale said, “while executing your duties, try to be very professional, don’t kill a story because a source has given you Shs10,000, yet the story would be of a national concern to benefit the whole community.”

In the year 2021, the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U) recorded a total of 131 cases involving human rights violations and abuses against journalists and media practitioners.

The reported cases involved assaults, unlawful arrests, and detention, switching off radio stations, confiscation and in some cases, damage of equipment blocked access, and physical and cyber-attacks.

According to Robert Ssempala, the executive director Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda [HRNJ-U], the continued abuses, and violations of press freedom and media rights are responsible for the decline in Uganda’s ranking under the World Press Freedom Index from position 117 in 2018 to 125 in 2021.

Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 journalists have been killed around the world, with close to 9 out of 10 cases of these killings remaining judicially unresolved, according to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists.

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