By Frezer Zewude and Nadia Shiyyab
While the World Press Freedom Day celebrations on the 3 May in Addis Ababa, reports of the Uganda Communication Commission's order to suspend 13 journalists across several broadcast media houses trickled in.
The journalists were ordered suspended for their coverage of Uganda's upcoming opposision leader MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s court case coverage during this week in Kampala. Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobby Wine is a musician turned politician and is garnering mass support as Uganda seek alternative leadership to the incumbent who has been in power since 1986.
Journalists have opposed the suspension of the 13 Radio and TV stations editors whose coverage the UCC refered to as ‘repeated breach of minimum broadcasting standards’ and for disseminating 'extremist or anarchic messages including incitement of violence’.
The clampdown on the broadcasters is thought to relate to the coverage this week of Kyagulanyi’s court case surrounding his opposition of last year's imposition of social media taxes by the governement. The social media tax was an attempt by government to limit the spread of 'misinformation and fake news' in Uganda.
According to the 2019 world press freedom rankings, Uganda ranks 125 out of 180 countries. The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.
Reporters without Boarders: 2019 World Press Freedom Index: A cycle of fear
Association for Progressive Communication: Despots and disruptions: the greater the tendency to authoritarianism, the higher the chances of internet shutdowns