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World Newspapers body writes to M7, IGP over Red Pepper

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) have written a letter to President Museveni and Police boss Kale Kayihura over dwindling media freedoms in the country.

In a letter dated, December 4, WAN-IFRA and WEF who represent over 18,000 publications and 15,000 online sites in over 120 countries, are particularly concerned about the recent treatment of eight Red Pepper directors and editors over a November 20 story.

The story that alleged that Uganda President Yoweri with the help of his brother Gen Salim Saleh and security minister Lt.Gen Henry Tumukunde were plotting to overthrow Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Red Peppers editors and directors in court

The editors were arrested on November 21 and their offices closed and have since been charged with publication of information prejudicial to security, libel and offensive communication.

“If the government believes that the editors indeed committed a crime in publishing details of this story, then we respectfully remind the relevant authorities that the rule of law exists in Uganda and that due procedure therefore should have been followed.

Furthermore, detaining the eight at Nalufenya Police Detention Centre, a location used by the police to hold individuals suspected of capital offences such as terrorism and treason, would appear to serve no other purpose than to intimidate the Red Pepper staff.

Such actions risk unleashing a chilling effect throughout the media profession in Uganda”, letter in part the two-page letter signed by WAN-IFRA president Michael Golden and WEF president David Callaway.

Narrowing media space

“We take this opportunity to express our growing unease at the way media is being treated in Uganda. Editors from media houses such as Monitor Publications Ltd and Vision Group have recently been summoned to the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate regarding stories they have published.

Although they have not been officially charged in court, this trend of summoning and interrogating editors is likely to instil further concern among journalists across the country. Such actions will likely lead to an increase in self-censorship and an understandable reluctance to pursue future stories for fear of recrimination or legal harassment”, WAN-IFRA and WEF wrote.

In the interests of a free and democratic Uganda, we therefore call on your office to cease such methods of intimidation, to reprimand the tactics of intimidation deployed by the police, and to do everything in your power to show civic leadership in calling for greater respect for the profession of journalism.

Similarly, journalists under the Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda (FCAU) have also condemned government’s move of arresting and harassing media practitioners with the aim of silencing them.

Speaking at the Uganda Press Photo Award (UPPA) book launch yesterday, Micheal O’Hagan, the co-chair of FCAU, described the attack as a move that undermine good journalism. He expressed that FCAU would continue to encourage, criticize and support the journalists and it stood in solidarity with the jailed journalists.  

“Whether we like or disagree with the content the Red Pepper publishes, this attack on free press undermines the freedom of all journalists to report the facts. The government of Uganda must stop using arrests and prosecutions as a means of intimidating journalists,” cautioned O’Hagan at the evening event held at The Square in Kampala.

Further, O’Hagan urged journalists to always uphold strong journalistic standards and ethics and to always hold themselves to account when they fall short of best practices.

Explaining that it was through pictures that people get to know about the events, the FCAU co-chair thanked the shortlisted journalists whose works were showcased in the UPPA album for their great work.

Deborah Malac, the US ambassador, described the press attacks as troubling and disturbing and called on for action from everyone. She replicated her government’s message by maintaining that there was need to for an independent media because it is an essential element of strong democracy.

She observed that despite Uganda’s Constitution guarantying the freedom of the press, attack on the media continue with the most recent being the attack on Red Pepper for “simply for publishing an article.”

In circumstances where government believes false information has been published, she urged, it would be prudent if it thought other avenues like courts instead of arrests and harassments.

“Countries thrive when their citizens are well informed, and the citizens can only be well informed when there’s a professional independent media,” she said. Adding; “Tonight, we renew the call we have made to the government of Uganda to safe guard the freedom of the press.”

Malac further commended all journalists for their bravery to tell stories with the aim of ensuring that Ugandans get the information they deserve.  

The UPPA album is a compilation of award winning works from photojournalists who have excelled and consists of works since 2012 when the photo accolade was launched. It features works from award winning journalists like The Observer’s Nicholas Bamulanzeeki, and Daily Monitor’s Abubaker Lubowa, among others.


+3 #1 Akot 2017-12-07 19:34
World Newspapers body should by now know as long as Ugandans stay divided in the tribalistic system that can only be shattered through Unity, no Newspaper will be free in the Uganda museveni is building!

Museveni has brought everything to standstill & wants Ugandans to give him not only lifetime presidency, but the country too!

While Ugandans need another 30 years to understand museveni's intentions, how can World Newspaper not see this, more this concerns not only Ugandans but world news!

The question to ask now is:

"Why are Ugandans keeping museveni in power through the most disgusting tribalistic system the world has ever seen"?

How can there be no opposition leadership in a country where the people say they don't want the one in power?
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+1 #2 Akot 2017-12-07 19:39
...How can a normal country parliament be locked in a president's age bill, especially when the demon is in power for 32 years & believes it's him & no other?

To what level will Ugandans allow museveni to spit on/humiliate them & they go along discussing his lifetime presidency as if the people have basic social services under him & don't want to lose them by going to the unknown?

Ah, museveni destroyed Acholi for 30 years, yet now they are with the demon & the tribalist tribal leader begs the soon owner of Uganda for handout for survival!

What is there for world media to report about Uganda besides museveni museveni....?
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-1 #3 Tinah 2017-12-08 01:29
Am glad they recognized one, that some people don't like or approve of what redpepper writes as that tabloid has really destroyed many lives in Uganda by telling material falsehoods about them.

Funny enough they would claim to be so connected to the same Government you are condemning as they defamed people with impunity!

Am also glad the several heads of Journalist bodies in this article, acknowledged basic standards in journalism as well as the need to be accountable when one falls short of those standards!
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0 #4 Lakwena 2017-12-08 10:23
The word angel has its etymological origin from the Greek word "Angelo", which means "messenger".

In other words, the Ugandan gods: Musevenus (the god of violence), Kaleus (the god of malice and mischief) Ofwonodorus (god of lies and deception) etc., have the power of life and death over Ugandans and especially the Angels, who are the messengers, eyes, ears and mouthpiece of Ugandans.

According to the Ugandan goods any slightest suspicion that somebody has the truth about their mischief; lies and violence; he/she is charged with treason, aggravated robbery and murder. For which now the Red Pepper editors find themselves in.
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+1 #5 Kigongo Ssentongo 2017-12-08 18:43
Newspapers are like Internal Auditors. They both like scrutinizing actions of others.

But when it comes to asking them to account, they act sacrosanct and quote ,reliable sources,
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