Uganda Media Centre Executive Director Ofwono Opondo has told journalists to first report abuses and oppression from their own media houses before they attack government on media freedom.
Ofwono Opondo, also deputy government spokesperson was speaking as a chief walker on the occasion to mark the World Press Freedom Day that kicked off with a walk from Railway Ground up to Kitgum House on Jinja Road. World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) general Assembly in 1993 in recognition of the pivotal role of the media in global development endeavors and building democracy.
Opondo said that it is unfair for journalists to attack government accusing them of violating their media freedoms and rights yet their own media houses are perpetrators of their freedom.
“We encourage journalists to report violations. As we focus on Government, I ask you to also focus on your media houses. Many of you work without appointments letters, many of you work under poor conditions, many of you suffer inside there,” Opondo said. He tasked scribes to check bad practices from their own media houses in a similar manner they check government.
He added that Uganda has registered tremendous progress towards building a free, professional and vibrant media, particularly in the last 24 years. which he said are being addressed by government.
“The liberalization of the sector by the government in the early 1990s was a bold endorsement of the media’s cardinal role in cementing democracy and accountability in Uganda. Today, we have over 200 radio stations and dozens of publications and television stations relaying information across Uganda,” Opondo said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, also chief guest at the celebrations condemned social media suppression on grounds that some young people earn from it through advertising their small enterprises. She added that Parliament will always side with the masses.
“I was told by young people social media is being suppressed when I was in London yet some young people earn from it or advertise there their small businesses. We want to see media rights violators being prosecuted in the courts of law. But on the legislative side, we have done our part. We have put into place Acts to protect the rights of media,” Kadaga said.
Recently, some journalists who attempted to cover the trial of former Buyende District Police Commander (DPC) Muhammed Kirumira at the Police tribunal were manhandled by Police.