FUMP BOSS IMPLORES MILITARY TO RESPECT MEDIA FREEDOMS
By Khasacha Mwene
The Federation of Uganda Media Practitioners (FUMP) has today joined media professionals and governments around the world in commemorating the World Press Freedom Day, which takes place annually every May 3. World Press Freedom Day is an important occasion to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists for their efforts and struggle in the exercise of their profession.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind.
“The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world including Uganda. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development,” according to FUMP Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John Nakku. Several Journalists around the world have organized several activities to showcase the vital role that Journalists pay in society.
In a press statement issued by Mr. Nakku, he noted that the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Information as a Public Good”, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information. “It calls for attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information by tackling misinformation and other harmful content,” he added.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day marks the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press. That declaration led to the recognition by the UN of the World Press Freedom Day to be celebrated every May 3. Mr. Nakku said after 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing.
“The importance of freely accessing reliable information particularly through journalism has been demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic: in times of crisis such as this, information can be a matter of either life or death. The COVID-19 crisis has placed journalists and quality journalism and public interest media once again at the center of the global discourse. Reporting on the crisis, through initiatives such as the popularization of scientific facts, the compilation and frequent updating of data, fact-checking or monitoring spending has proved vital,” said Mr. Naku.
He further noted that during this covid-19 pandemic period, many of reporters have been harassed and attacked for their reporting on the handling of the pandemic yet they put their life at risk by scooping a story under such circumstances and the public has struggled to discern verified information from the falsehoods that have flooded the internet.
“FUMP calls on our government agencies especially the police and military to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to defend media workers and to ensure that information remains a public good. Torturing one of us is a torture to all of us,” added Mr. Naku. The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Ms. Judith Nabakooba, speaking on the eve of International World Press Day, assured all media practitioners that their safety and freedoms are guaranteed by the Government.
“All those who continue to be harassed while doing their work should report the incidents to the respective authorities. International World Press Day is the day when the world reflects on the importance of a free press. It is important to strengthen all levels of information function from the way information is produced, distributed and consumed. I want to thank the Media in Uganda for a job well done. For example, the media has been crucial in the fight against COVID-19 and the just concluded national elections. In the course of this work, some of the journalists have come under attack for many different reasons,” said Minister Nabakooba.
The Minister added that as Government of Uganda, the occasional challenges or incidents should not override the existing good will and support towards the media. “Uganda has one of the most vibrant media spaces in the world. With close to 300 radio stations, over 40 TV stations, and about 96 online media platforms our media industry is envied all over the world. This vibrancy only exists in places where the media is appreciated and encouraged,” she explained. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).
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