Do Not Handle Acts of Militarism Against Journalism Lightly – Prof. Jjuuko

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Uganda Martyrs University Dean of law School, Prof. Fredrick Jjuuko has tasked media practitioners not to handle acts of militarism against journalism lightly.

Jjuuko warns that the recent efforts by media managers intended at solving the continued brutalization of journalists by security personnel through football matches and round-table talks are not likely to be productive.

The professor who also teaches media law was today delivering a key note address titled; Freedom of Expression and the Emerging Militarism”. This was at an event organized by the Uganda Editors’ Guild in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

“Of course we have obvious aspects of militarism in terms of beating, maiming of journalists, destruction and vandalizing of equipment. But you have other forms, you have moles…there are moles in media houses. You have intimidation through telephone calls over stories,” said Prof. Jjuuko.

He adds that another important part of militarism is criminalization saying that a lot of media laws are criminalized and this is the reason why journalists are arrested, interrogated and charged.

Prof. Jjuuko says that a policy of appeasement should be adopted by the media as a solution to solving the situation because it will not do.

According to Prof. Jjuuko, the media should not refrain from legal actions to challenge what is being done, exposing intimidation and collective action in order to assert your selves.

He cast doubt on recent engagements by the National Association of Broadcasters- NAB with the army through a football match saying that such moves are not likely to be very productive.

The Professor says that security agencies are not ignorant of human rights since they have human rights directorates. “All I should say about this engagement, you can continue with it but in your fight against militarism…may be this engagement should constitute 5 percent of media efforts and 95 percent should be elsewhere,” he explained.

He appealed the media to be self organized in order to collectively fight militarism.

Meanwhile, Jjuuko warned the media not to be sacked in by militarism saying that media should not glamorize militarism by displaying weapons, missiles, war ships, fighter jets and others. He says that such stories and pictures make war attractive to especially the young and inexperienced people.

In response, Brigadier Gen. Flavia Byekwaso, the UPDF spokesperson said that journalists have not been restricted from doing their work and that there was reason for those who were arrested especially during the campaign period. She acknowledged that the army is sometimes confrontational but it should be commended where it does well.  

Byekwaso also said that the UPDF will not stop at the recent match played with the media, but it is to ensure sensitization and media training of the officers as well.

The Chairman of the Editors’ Guild, Daniel Kalinaki says that the media is not adversarial and it will continue to protect its rights robustly.

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