Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda has on the 28th May 2019, launched its 10th edition of the press freedom index report titled IMPUNITY – A Cry for Media Freedom.
The report contains documentation of abuses and violations committed by different actors in 2018. The 2018 press freedom index findings depict a general escalation in abuses and violations against media practitioners. Perpetrators included the Police, Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) with elements of the elite team of the Special Forces Command, individuals as well as media managers, UCC and other unidentified perpetrators.
The 2018 PFI documented a total of 163 cases of violations and abuses during 2018. This points to an escalation as compared to 113 cases recorded in 2017. So, there is a registered increase of 50 cases between 2017 and 2018.
The Police, is for the tenth consecutive year, the leading offender of media rights. Out of the total 163 cases reported, the Police accounted for 87 cases, which is half of all incidents documented in 2018, and it represents a percentage of 53%. The army which comprises of SFC, UPDF Royal guards UDPF (regular) came in second place accounting for 28 cases representing 17%, unknown perpetrators followed in third place with 17 cases representing 10%, the community came in fourth place with 15 cases representing 9% and the RDCs in fifth place with 9 cases representing 6%. Other perpetrators included private security, UCC, journalists, media owners and local leaders
A free media plays an important role in enlightening the populace, but most prominently hold the leaders accountable through its critical watchdog role. Despite this increased vigilance and activism for press freedom, there is still widely entrenched impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, especially the State actors like the police, army, RDCs and politicians.
We hope that the statistics and empirical data provided in this report will be of essence in informing and fostering robust debates around freedom of expression and the media in order to devise means of how to scale down the attacks against journalists and the media at large as we head into the politically charged campaign times for the 2021 general elections.
Please find a soft copy of the report: HERE