Last Updated on: 3rd May 2023, 08:53 am
Lira, May 3, 2023: May 3, 2023, was designed by the United Nations to celebrate World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) and 2023 marks the 30th annual celebration.
This year’s theme as defined by UNESCO is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights” and is being celebrated across the world.
The Day increases awareness about the importance of press freedom while highlighting the critical role that journalists and media outlets play in promoting democracy, and human rights.
However, every day, a journalist is being attacked by both State and other perpetrators. They are being maimed and killed. In Africa, the situation is dire, according to the latest report.
A Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) global census of journalists imprisoned for their work as of December 1, 2022, shows that, in Africa, four (4) journalists were killed in 2022.
Two were killed in Chad and the same figures died in Somalia. Egypt was the top jailer with 21 journalists imprisoned; Eritrea jailed 16; Cameroon 5, Rwanda 4, Morocco 3; DRC 2.
Other countries are Algeria, Burundi, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal with each of them jailing one each.
“Egypt remains the top jailer of journalists across Africa despite some releases under international pressure,” CPJ said, adding that Eritrea is one of the most censored countries in the world.
“The majority of the journalist imprisoned there have been detained without train for 21 years, since the crackdown on the independent press in 2001,” added CPJ.
In Burundi, Floriane Irangabiye remains the only female journalist documented by CPJ as being imprisoned for her work as of December 1, 2022.
Cameroon, according to CPJ has appeared on the census every year since 2014, with some journalists currently jailed since 2016.
Most journalists jailed in Africa are held on anti-state charges and many are also held on false news and cybercrime allegations.
The Constitution of Uganda Article 29 guarantees press freedom for media practitioners, civil society organizations (CSOs), and all political groupings. However, journalists still face hard life while on duty, especially those covering opposition politicians.
In 2022, nine journalists, including Norman Tumuhimbise and Farida Bikobere, were arrested for cyber-stalking Museveni and offensive communication. After weeks of relentless advocacy by CSOs, they were eventually released.
There are also unreported but genuine cases where journalists operating in upcountry towns are censored, beaten and jailed for the work they do.