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Ugandan diplomats, rights groups condemn suspension of journalists


Diplomats and right groups in Uganda condemn authorities for ordering suspension of over 30 journalists on Friday.

These journalists had covered protests by supporters of pop star turned politician Bobi Wine.

“The letter that was sent to the broadcasting houses was to start an investigation in that matter. There is content that is suspect, that we have seen based on our recordings and supervision, so we needed these people who are in charge of programming in these institutions to step aside to allow for investigation to happen without interference”, said Ibrahim Bbossa, Public Relations Officer of the Ugandan Communications Commission.

The media outfits including NTV Uganda, NBS TV, Capital FM and Salt TV – have written to the regulator saying they will not comply with the order and asking for talks. Uganda’s Journalists Association plans to mount a legal challenge.

“Regulators cannot start controlling the editorial independence, that’s a no! So, either the Ugandan media stands up against this sort of intimidation or they cow-down and agree to the oppression of the regulator. So whichever decision we will make it will be a big decision especially as the country comes close to 2021 which is the year of election”, said Solomon Sserwanja, a journalist.

On Tuesday, Uganda’s press regulator ordered 13 local media groups to suspend news editors, producers and programme directors, accusing them of broadcasting ‘‘extremist or anarchic messages’‘.

Diplomats from the U.S, the EU, Britain, Japan and a dozen other countries issued a joint statement calling on Uganda to respect people’s rights to freedom of speech and expression.

There was no immediate reaction from the government or the Communications Commission on Friday.


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