|Rapportuers UN Rapportuer Margaret Ssekagya (Left) at the dialogue with AU Rapporteur Advo. Pansy Tlakula|
Kampala, 18th September 2012; The Africa Union Special Rapportuer on the Freedom of expression, opinion and Information, advocate Pansy Tlakula has expressed the need by her office and that of her counterpart at the United Nations to make a formal visit to the country.
Advocate Pansy was speaking at a National Public Dialogue on freedom of expression and information (FOE-I) organized by Human Rights network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) on 17th September 2012 at Serena hotel in Kampala, which attracted media practitioners; academia; CSOs and government agencies.
She noted that given the various human rights concerns in Uganda especially on freedom of expression, her office would make an official request to Ugandan government to facilitate her visit. “….i will officially write to the Ugandan government to admit a joint mission of AU and UN to come and assess the situation of FOE-I in Uganda between January and April 2013……”
Advocate Pansy who was on an informal visit to Uganda was dismayed by the status of freedom of expression in Uganda which participants noted was characterized by; stringent media legal framework closure of media houses, physical attacks on journalists, denial of platforms to guarantee divergent thoughts; denial to practitioners to access news scenes; illegal arrest and detention of journalists; harassment and intimidation of journalists among others.
She commended HRNJ-Uganda for organizing the event which she described as very relevant in strengthening freedom of expression, opinion and information in Uganda and Africa as a whole. She also hailed the UN Special Rapportuer on the situation of Human rights defenders, Ms Margaret Ssekaggya for championing the human rights agenda. She outlined the importance of civil society in Uganda and freedom of expression practitioners to continuously engage in dialogue with the state/ government and to utilize both her office at the AU and the UN mechanisms to ensure the promotion and protection of FOE-I in the country.
She called on the State to take steps to decriminalize defamation and prosecute persons who perpetrate attacks on journalists to end impunity. She called for the establishment of independent regulatory bodies, adding that politicians should not be allowed to own media houses because this compromises their offices.
The UN Special Rapportuer on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms Margaret Ssekaggya on her part observed that the numerous cases received by her office reveal that journalists continue to suffer all kinds of threats to muzzle the media. She said that journalists were among the many human rights defenders who are most vulnerable while at work. She called on the government to pass a law for the protection of human rights defenders basing on technical advice by the AU and UN.
HRNJ-Uganda thanks all journalists who have withstood the turbulent environment and continued to promote freedom of expression, opinion and Information in Uganda.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School,
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala, Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627