The Uganda Editors’ Guild has requested the Media Council of Uganda not to frustrate journalists efforts in covering the 2021 elections.
This week, the Media Council directed all practicing journalists in the country to register or risk being denied rights to cover the electoral process and other events.
The exercise starts next week and will run up to 21 December 2020.
According to Paulo Ekochu, the Council chairperson, criminal charges will be slapped on any media houses, both local and international, including freelance journalists who fail to register.
Mr Ekochu said all media houses, editors, journalists, and other practitioners that obtained accreditation for 2020 are required to apply for renewal for 2021 given that all current press passes will expire at the end of the year.He added that the registration was primarily to ensure the safety of journalists and media practitioners.
However, according to Editors’ Guild, the registration comes at a wrong time when journalists are already covering candidates in the field.
“We also note the very short time allowed for this registration to take place and are concerned with recent refusals to accredit foreign journalists wishing to cover the election in Uganda. In addition, we note that while the current law, which is more than two decades old, provides for registration of journalists, it might have been overtaken by developments on the ground, including the emergence of social media, citizen journalism and user-generated content,” the Guild said in a December 11 letter.
“The Editors’ Guild therefore requests the Media Council to hold more consultations with different stakeholders to ensure that the constitutional right of citizens to receive and disseminate information is not unduly harmed by these regulations. This is particularly important during an election in which the primary role of good journalism – to give citizens the information they need to make informed choices – is needed most.”
The Editors’ Guild also noted that they have reached out to the Media Council to express their willingness to meet with them and other stakeholders to discuss these regulations.
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