KAMPALA – European Union (EU) Missions to Uganda have condemned government’s decision to impose tougher restrictions on media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) ahead of the 2021 general election.
According to statements issued by the Embassies of Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Netherlands on on Tuesday, 15 December 2020, media and CSOs are key in developing democracy and protecting human rights especially during the ongoing election campaign period.
“We are concerned about the recent reports of increased restrictions on the work of the media and civil society. We wish to emphasize that both the media and CSOs play a vital role in developing democracy and protecting human rights particularly during the election campaign period,” the statement posted on official tweeter handles of the Embassies of Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Ireland reads in part.
This comes after the Uganda Media Council, the body in charge of regulating the media gave all practising journalists a seven-day ultimatum to register or risk being denied access to cover the 2021 general election and other public function.
The Uganda Editors’ Guild has since cautioned the Council over the ultimatum given to practicing journalists to register warning that the timing was problematic and could cause unnecessary suspicion.
“We note that the requirement to register journalists comes in the middle of the election campaign season when many journalists are already covering candidates in the field. The Editors’ Guild therefore requests the Media Council to hold more consultations with different stakeholders to ensure that the Constitutional rights of citizens to receive and disseminate information is not unduly harmed by these regulations,” reads the Uganda Editors’ Guild statement issued on 11th December.
The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) Executive Director, Sydney Asubo, on December 11th, froze the accounts of Uganda Women’s Network-UWONET and Uganda National NGO Forum in Stanbic Bank, ABSA Bank, KCB Bank and Standard Chartered Bank on allegations of terror financing.
However, Tezira Jamwa, the UWONET Chairperson has since described the FIA allegations as false, adding that the freezing of their accounts has adversely affected their operations but more specifically activities aimed at benefitting groups especially women and girls of Uganda. This includes activities that had been lined up for the 16 days of activism to end Gender Based Violence and the elections projects.