3 May is World Press Freedom Day. The UK is active in promoting a free and independent media in Uganda, and today is an opportunity to reflect on achievements and the challenges that still lie ahead.
Freedom of expression is fundamental to building democracy. Citizens must be allowed to discuss and debate issues, to challenge their governments and make informed decisions. Journalists, bloggers, media organisations play a crucial role in this. Individuals must be allowed to operate and to express themselves freely and safely and within international standards. Governments need to respond to legitimate aspirations with reform not repression. Encouraging an open and effective press serves to improve the environment for long-term social, political and economic stability. As highlighted in the FCO’s Human Rights Report, British embassies and high commissions regularly highlight the need to tackle impunity for attacks on journalists. Where we are concerned about harassment, intimidation and assassination of journalists, we raise individual cases, call for prompt and full investigations and support criminal justice mechanisms and judicial reform to deal with attacks.
The UK strongly supports a free, vibrant and effective media in Uganda and we have worked with key partners on this, including in Government, civil society and the media sector itself. This includes UK-funded project work. In 2011 we funded workshops on personal safety for journalists; in 2012 we trained journalists from the Ugandan Parliamentary and Press Association on effective reporting on Parliament; and in 2013 we helped the Ugandan Women Parliamentary Association to increase its expertise on working with the media. We look forward to continuing our discussions and work in this important area.