Monday, September 12, 2011

Local council leaders move to bar media activities in the district

 Kalangala, 8th/Sept/2011; Plans are under way for the Kalangala district leadership to pass a resolution which bans media activities in the district.
 Kalangala district is found on the shores of Lake Victoria.  In the district executive meeting held on September 6th 2011 at Kalangala district offices, the district leadership headed by Chairperson Willy Lugoloobi resolved that a draft resolution will be presented before the council expected to meet later this month and pass it.
If the council passes the resolution it will automatically become a by-law where journalist will be arrested and prosecution for the offence of trace passing in the district.
 In the same meeting journalists were manhandled while being thrown out.
Decentralization system which was introduced in late 1990s in Uganda, a district is a government in its own which makes by laws to policing its affairs.
 The problem
 Stem from a story aired on radios on 27th/Aug/2011 which reported that the district was allegedly grabbing Buganda Kingdom land and it destroyed the Kingdom’s model garden to construct the district head quarters.
Since 2006,
 The district has been struggling to find space to construct offices after receiving nearly two (2) billion shillings from development partners. In 2009, the National Forest Authority (NFA) allegedly blocked the district from encroaching on one of the forests in the area.
 Contacted Mr. Lugoloobi said the district move targets one journalist who mixed facts in the story. “We do not have problems with journalists in the district or those in other parts of Uganda but only that one who reported the story and refused to charge it after I called him” said Lugoloobi
 Story was aired on radios in July 2011 about an expectant mother who died with her unborn baby in a lodge after being chased away by a medical worker from the Kalangala health center IV on the ground of no medicine. The media also reported that officials in the district report on duty on Tuesday and close offices on Thursday since they live on the main land.

 “We do not condone the unethical behavior of some journalists but we are opposed to the step taken by the district administration because it will not solve the problem rather worsening it by denying people information which concerns them” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala 
 He added
 That such situations do not warrant a by-law instead the district should use the existing institutions like the Independent Media Council of Uganda (IMCU) which checks on the practice of the professionals.
 Who talked to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) testified against district officials for issuing threats to them. “I called to the district Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for a clarification but he declined saying he had orders not to talk to journalists and later referred me to the district chairperson. When I called Mr. Lugoloobi and after introducing myself to him, he hanged up on me “said one of the journalists who feared to be Mentioned because his safety.
 Calls on the IMCU to intervene and prevail over the matter. We also appeal to all media in Uganda to invest enough airtime to sensitize the public over the importance of the media in a democratic society and its role.

 For More Information Contact;
 Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road at Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
 P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627


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