By Sadique Bamwita
The Acting chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has expressed dismay on persistent attacks on the mainstream media in Uganda saying this hampers freedom of expression.
Addressing participants (Journalists) during a capacity building training on Human Rights Based Journalism, Meddie Mulumba, the Acting chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), said due to increased attacks on journalists by security agencies, the Human rights body thought it wise to train journalists to understand their fundamental rights and freedoms.
“The critical role of the media in human rights can’t be over emphasized. The media can enforce democratic governance in achievement of vision 2040. Indeed, mainstream media is under serious attack,” he said.
He also noted that freedom, and human rights go hand in hand and urged all media practitioners to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms.
He further asked journalists to avoid being partisan and always report cases of torture inflicted on them to the Uganda Human Rights Commission.
“We intend to train security agencies on how to handle journalists and all journalists who are victims of torture should be compensated”.
Kamadi Byonabye, the Director Regional Services at UHRC, noted that between 1962 and 1986, Uganda had a number of part time presidents and during their tenures in office there were a lot of human rights violations.
“In the past regimes human rights violation was orchestrated with a lot of impunity for instance soldiers would rape women and go unpunished. During these regimes there was no respect for human rights and freedom.”
Kamadi, however, revealed that there are matters over which the Human rights body has no jurisdiction, especially matters pending before another court or matters involving relations or dealings between government and a foreign government.
Juliet Logose, a director at UHRC, reminded the state, duty bearers and security agencies to desist from gross violations of human rights and humanitarian Law.
Rosemary Kemigisa, a senior human rights officer at UHRC, cited threats or drastic measures against media houses plus poor remuneration of media practitioners as some of the key issues affecting the media industry.
Dr. Adolf Mbaine, who lectures in the department of Journalism and communication at Makerere University, cautioned journalists against plagiarism in addition to avoiding payments/ cash for news or brown envelope journalism.
Ida Nakiganda, the Director complaints, investigations and legal services at Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), revealed that the commission faces some challenges which hamper prosecution of human rights violators. For instance, failure to follow up complaints registered with the human rights commission and failure to provide key documentary evidence such as medical reports.
Some of the journalists who participated in the capacity building training on Human Rights Based Journalism commended the Human rights body for enlightening them on their fundamental rights and freedoms.