Paradigm Initiative condemns the actions of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) which ordered the immediate suspension of a news website published by Monitor Publications Limited.
As reported by Committee to Protect Journalists, the Monitor group came under investigation following claims by the Speaker of the Uganda parliament which accused the paper of publishing fake news. The UCC claimed the news site was unlicensed. The issued notice by UCC on registration of online content providers was issued last year in March.
The case of the Daily Monitor highlights the many attempts and actions that are stifling press freedom within Uganda and Africa overall. On the day the news site suspension was ordered, BBC investigative journalists were arrested on the ground of illegal possession of restricted drugs during an undercover investigation of the black market of medicine in Uganda.
Arrest, closure and even physical abuse are often used as a means of suppressing and threatening the exercising of a free press in Uganda. Last year a number of journalists were beaten and their equipment damaged. On August 23, 2018, the police brutally attacked and damaged tools of journalists who were covering protests for the release of Bobi Wine. The plight of the press in Uganda is dire as the Ugandan president of Uganda has openly threatened and accused them of defamation and incitement.
Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy for East Africa, Rebecca Ryakitimbo said, “We urge the government of Uganda to review repressive laws such as Anti-Terrorism Act 2002, the Press and Journalism Act 1995, and the Public Order Management Act 2013 among others that hinder a free press.Without a free press, society is doomed to suffer from misinformation and the media ecosystem is further oppressed with only a handful of players making it a scene of the chosen few and crime to the masses.”