May 6, 2016

Gag order on Ugandan media

Minister of Information Jim Muhwezi
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is very preoccupied by the gag order imposed on Ugandan media, forbidding them to report on the "defiance" campaign put in place by the opposition. It asks the authorities to immediately lift this ban, which reflects poorly on the current regime.

On 5 May 2016, Jim Muhwezi, former Major general of the Army and current Information minister issued a gag order preventing live coverage of the opposition's "defiance" campaign spearheaded by the party of Kizza Besigye.

This order follows a ruling of the deputy chief Justice from April, 29 declaring all opposition protests illegal. In its release, the Information Minister said "Any media house that continues offering live coverage of the so-called defiance campaign risk having its broadcasting licence revoked". He added " The ban may extend to social media if it is used as an alternative tool for propagating defiance campaign".

"This is a scandalous clamp down on information freedom that only adds to the difficulties journalists have been facing since before the presidential elections, says Reporters Without Borders. We urge the authorities to lift this illegal gag order immediately".

The gag order has been issued a few days before the planned swearing in ceremony of President Yoweri Museweni, who will start his 30th year in the presidential seat, after being elected in February following an election the European Union said lacked transparency.

The opponent Kizza Besygie had rejected the result of the February elections and had since then been placed under house arrest. Reporters trying to cover the conditions of his incarceration have been systematically harassed by the Ugandan police guarding Besigye's residence.

Uganda is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in the 2016 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.