The Uganda Editors’ Guild was yesterday inaugurated in Kampala during activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every May 3.
Prof Frederick Jjuuko from Makerere University’s School of Law, who gave a keynote address, spoke about militarism and how it affects media operations while relating to Uganda.
Citing a number of examples, he said the militarism has replaced state institutions and processes—infecting them “with militarism itself” — citing courts of law where civilians have been tried before military courts, among other incidents.
“Elections have become security operations in this country. You all remember the previous army violations on the population,” he said, adding that practice also leads to massive corruption and entitlement with great impunity.
Prof Jjuuko, however, cautioned the media against glamorising war, saying: “When you do that, without saying anything about what the war entails for people, deaths, extreme suffering, economy etc, it makes, war attractive to the young people and then you create future militarists.”
The Danish Ambassador to Uganda, representing the European Union Delegation, quoting a report by Reporters Without Borders said over the past year, there was a “dramatic deterioration in people’s access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage”.
While health workers were struggling with the pandemic over the past year, he said many journalists around the world faced another challenge almost as damaging: a global infodemic.
Fake news, hate speech, conspiracy theories, he noted “in times of Covid-19 has become clearer than ever that access to reliable information can be a matter of life or death”.
Mr Anthony Kujawa, the spokespersonon of the US Embassy, Kampala noted the alarming increase of social media and “Internet restrictions by governments around the world”.
“Shutting down the Internet threatens the ability of journalists to do their job and the access to journalism that people need to be active, informed citizens,” he said, noting that Washington also condemns the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns to suppress freedom of expression online.
Mr Daniel Kalinaki, the chairman Uganda Editors’ Guild, said they have since inception studied key areas where they can add value but “we have also put in our time and commitment”.
Mr Kalinaki said the Guild will work hard to protect “our rights,” independence of media, and said journalists are not enemy of the state. The formation of the Guild started in February 2019.
The Executive includes the chairman, Mr Daniel K.Kalinaki, the General Manager, Editorial at Nation Media Group Uganda, David Mukholi, the Managing Editor (Editorial) of Vision Group, Ms Joyce Bagala, formerly the Head of News at NBS TV, and Mr Alex B. Atuhaire, the Editorial Director at PML Daily. Others are Ms Sylvia Nankya, an editor at the Uganda Radio Network, and Mr Pius Katunzi Muteekani of The Observer newspaper.