The significance of press freedom has been emphasised across the world. However, journalists in many countries, especially in Africa, continue to face intimidation, violence, detention, harassment, and other acts that stifle their work.
Yesterday, journalists the world over showed solidarity as they commemorated the World Press Freedom Day. Degazzetted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, the World Press Freedom Day, is meant to pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty. It is also meant to evaluate the state of press freedom around the world.
It is unfortunate that 25 years later, reports indicate that global press freedom is on a downward trend. Hatred for journalists is reported to have grown from last year even in countries that claim to be democratic.
According to the World Press Freedom Index 2018 by Paris- based Reporters Without Borders, Uganda ranks 117 out of 180 countries. The report citing grave attacks on the media. Uganda's own Press and Freedom Index Report 2017 released by Human Rights Network for Journalists highlights that 113 cases of violations and abuses against journalist were reported in 2017, and places the police as the chief perpetuator accounting for up to 83 cases.
These and many other reports have been published in the media and presented at the different events to mark the press freedom day. Ironically, the same was done during commemoration of the day in the previous year and the numbers were ugly.
Stakeholders like Uganda Communications Commission have rejected these statistics with Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, describing HRNJ's index as a doctored report. Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima in an article published in a local daily, also expressed doubt on the authenticity of the report.
The fact that these numbers raise concern is quite telling. We must reecho renown American statesman and former president Thomas Jefferson, who emphasised that a free press is indispensable for people to be informed and to participate in democracy. He said: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
It is not just a matter for the media fraternity alone to deal with. Awareness is important because only then will the public know the relevance of press freedom. World Press Freedom Day, therefore, is meant to be a day of reflection among especially media practitioners.
We need to see media organisations, associations, journalists and owners pull their weight together in a drive in a drive to achieve press freedom across the world.
Source link : http://allafrica.com/stories/201805040209.html
Publish date : 2018-05-04 07:35:47