The Uganda Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) Forum is set to petition the Parliament of Uganda over the recently proposed Press and Journalist Statute Amendment bill which seeks to introduce more restrictions on media freedoms and enforce more responsibility for journalists and media houses.
This was revealed by Arthur Larok, the Programmes Director of NGO Forum while addressing journalists in Kampala on Monday. He says the NGOs in Uganda are concerned that restriction on press freedom and journalists will negatively impact on the work of the civil society and thereby stifle the NGO’s contribution to Uganda’s development.
Larok says the NGO forum will officially petition Parliament not to pass the proposed bill with its restrictive provisions and to express solidarity with journalists in Uganda who have expressed dissatisfaction with government’s proposed legislation on media freedoms.
The Uganda minister for Information and National Guidance, Princess Kabakumba Masiko has proposed the Press and Journalist Statute Amendment bill which among others requires newspapers to be licensed every year after scrutinizing how they have been reporting. It also requires media houses to hire professional journalists and ensure registration of the journalists with the government regulatory body, the Uganda Media Council.
Journalists in Uganda have criticized the new amendments as aimed at stifling the media freedoms, arguing it will make journalists to report in fear of government action of closing their media houses.
Larok says when the press in the country works under threat, it also stifles the work of civil society organizations. He says a free, civil and responsible media is an important building block for democracy and development in Uganda, adding that a free media helps NGOs achieve their objectives.
The proposed bill is still being discussed by cabinet before it is presented before Uganda’s Parliament.