Journalism More Difficult Than Ever- Rights Expert

1496 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
UN Human Rights Expert David Kaye says that too many leaders see journalism as the enemy, reporters as rogue actors, those who tweet as terrorists, and bloggers as blasphemers.

Too many political leaders treat journalists as the enemy, rather than as a valuable expression of democracy, UN Human Rights Expert David Kaye has stated.

Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression made the comments during celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day.

The day is marked every year on May 3, to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

David Kaye condemned governments who "work incessantly to undermine" the practice of journalism Describing state harassment of the media as a global crisis.

In addition to calling for the criminalization of fake news, Kaye said governments should refrain from disabling websites that are critical of their policies, taking down content or blocking people's access to information online. He added that too many leaders see journalism as the enemy, reporters as rogue actors, those who tweet as terrorists, and bloggers as blasphemers.

"In the real world, journalists also face "physical abuse and murder" and too often these attacks go unpunished," Kaye said and demanded that governments should release  hundreds of reporters held in detention around the world, and repeal laws that treat criticism of authority as treachery.

The message comes at the backdrop of a report; the 2016 Press Freedom Index, which named the Uganda Police as the leading violator of rights of journalists in Uganda. The report titled "Tough Times, Political Intolerance Stifles Media", shows that Police committed 83 of the 135 media violations recorded in 2016.

The report lists violations as physical attacks, harassment, torture, injuries and looking up journalists in gazetted areas among others. Other forms include threats, political pressure, unfair dismissal and arbitrary suspension from work.


About the author

Sylvia Nankya
Sylvia is an Editor and Media Trainer with Uganda Radio Network. She has been a URN staff member since 2013. Sylvia has previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Radio One (2001-2009) and with Vision Group (2009-2011). Six of her active years in Journalism were spent covering the Parliament of Uganda.

Over the past few years, Sylvia has worked to promote the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language in covering conflict and post-conflict situations.

She is an Alumni of RNTC- Holland, Les Aspin Centre for Government at Marquette University-WI, USA and a Community Solutions Fellow.