Journalists, Civil Society Activists to Mark World Press Freedom Day With Procession, Public Debate


The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) and the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), healing together with other media partners, dosage have said that journalists and free speech activists in Kampala will this Tuesday, May 3, mark World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2016 with a procession and a public debate on media.

The procession through Kampala’s streets will start at 8:00 a.m. at Parliament Gardens, on to Constitution (City) Square, and end at Railway Gardens at 9:00 a.m.

Information and National Guidance Minister Jim Muhwezi will lead the procession, to which journalists and members of the public are cordially invited. Thereafter, starting at 9:30 a.m., the journalists, civil society activists who work to expand free speech, and friends of journalism will gather at Golf Course Hotel for panel discussions.

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“We are very pleased to bring together journalists, civil society activists, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and the public to reflect on the condition of press freedom and free speech in Uganda,” said Dr Peter G. Mwesige, ACME’s executive director.

“As many have noted before, the right to freedom of expression is at the foundation of all other rights,” he added.

This year’s WPFD, according to UNESCO, will address three key themes:

  1. Freedom of information and sustainable development,
  2. Protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach; and
  3. Ensuring safety for journalism online and offline.

According to UNESCO, the day serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom — a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

Supported by the U.S. and Swedish embassies in Kampala and Hivos, a Dutch international organisation, the day’s panel discussions at Golf Course Hotel shall involve:

1. The release, and panel discussion, of a research paper on the 20 years of the Press and Journalist Act in Uganda. Mr Adolf Mbaine, a lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication in Makerere University, wrote the research paper and will present its findings. To discuss the paper is a panel that has Ms Margaret Sentamu of Uganda Media Women’s Association, Mr Moses Watasa of the Directorate of Information in the Ministry of Information and National Guidance, and Mr Peter Magellah of Chapter Four. Newly elected Uganda Law Society Francis Gimara will be the main discussant. Dr Don Rukare of Freedom House will chair the session.

2. A panel discussion on freedom of information as a fundamental freedom and as a human right, based on the findings of a CIPESA/Twaweza Freedom of Information Scoping Study. Ms Lynn Najjemba of Panos Eastern Africa will chair the session, whose panel has Mr Mohammed Ndifuna of Hurinet, Mr Gilbert Sendugwa of Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Ms Ashna Kalemera of CIPESA (Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa), Ms Rose Mary Kemigisha of Uganda Human Rights Commission, and Mr Edward Ssekyewa of Hub for Investigative Media

3. A panel discussion on freedom of expression and dissemination for non-traditional media. This session will seek to expand the debate on free expression beyond traditional media to include the creative arts. Forming the panel are Mr Robert Shaka, an activist; Mr Fred Otunnu of Uganda Communications Commission; Mr Bobi Wine, a musician; Ms Ann Kansiime, an actress and comedian; Mr Joseph Batte of The New Vision, Mr Moses Serugo, a journalist; and Ms Rosebell Kagumire, a social media expert and activist. At the same occasion, Human Rights Network for Journalists—Uganda will receive the Commonwealth Union Astor Award for its “outstanding work in protecting the freedom of journalists in Uganda”.

The Deputy Chief of US Mission in Uganda, Ms Patricia Mahoney, will open the discussions, and representatives from the Swedish Embassy in Kampala and the Uganda Human rights Commission will close.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.


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