By Mariam Namakula
The Uganda National Commission for UNESCO together with the Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) have appealed to the government to implement a national mechanism for the safety of journalists.
Speaking to the journalists during a training on safety and security at the UMWA headquarters in Kisaasi on Saturday, Mr Daniel Kaweesi, a member of the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO, said the strategy for implementation was still in draft form, adding that they need to mobilise support from government to put it into action.
“It’s important that this mechanism be established at the national level so that we get a point of reference in case journalists rights have been violated,” Mr Kaweesi said.
He added that the UN plan of action for safety of journalists 2012 under Act (19) safety and security focused on upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms of expression.
“It is still unfortunate that journalists are being tortured and killed while exercising their profession and yet most cases are not resolved,” Mr Kaweesi said.
He said it was in such situations that the impunity for crimes against journalists and media professionals led to the increased shrinking space of freedom of expression.
He, however, acknowledged the quality and safety of information and sources was so critical for sustainable development but had increasingly declined.
Ms Margaret Ssentamu, the executive director of UMWA, said the safety mechanism had been delayed.
She added that as UMWA, they had also aligned a gender and media syllabus to address media issues.
Journalists also agreed on the shared responsibility on the safety and security for all and called for promotion and protection of freedom of expression and safety of female journalists, prevention of violence against media, persecution of perpetrators against media professionals, guarantee access to information and code of justice.
According to the global statistics report by IMWF in 2018/19, out of the 597 journalists and media workers interviewed, 40% were harassed online, 58% threatened in person, 26% attacked in person and seven Philippines women in 2019. In Uganda alone, reports from the HRNJ, 2018, 72% female internet users faced rampant threats and 12% faced violations and abuses.