Journalism is not a Crime – Haji Nsereko Mutumba

Journalists are being beaten, turned away and denied access to information that they need to report authoritatively, factually and extensively.

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Haji Nsereko Mutumba (R) and some of the journalists who have faced the wrath of Security organs.

On Wednesday, I watched with sadness as Military Police personnel beat up journalists at the UN Human Rights Commission Office in Kololo.

It reminded me of the dark days before NRA/M took over power. What happened was totally uncalled for and goes against all the values that NRA/M stood for. Even criminals do not deserve that kind of brutality, and I am encouraged by the fact that the culprits were quickly identified and brought to justice.

Any institution that undermines the Fourth Estate does so at its own peril because journalists play a pivotal role of gathering and disseminating key information to the public.

When Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi went to the Electoral Commission last year to present his complaints, journalists were not allowed in his meeting with the E.C Chairperson Justice Byabakama, but this was done in a very orderly manner and after the meeting, an arrangement was made for him to interface with the journalists. The whole process ended peacefully, to the safety and satisfaction of every party involved.

A similar arrangement should have been put in place in Kololo without having to subject journalists to such brutality.

Such irresponsible acts taint our country and our government negatively, and the situation is made worse by some of those who speak for and on behalf of the government.

I have seen and listened to some presidential advisers using vulgar and inciting language even in situations that call for calm and diplomacy.

Some of those who speak for the government and for the NRM party are too arrogant and hostile to the media.

Governance is largely about managing information flow; unfortunately, the NRM government is not doing well on this front because of the above factors.

Journalists are being beaten, turned away and denied access to information that they need to report authoritatively, factually and extensively.

This means that a lot of news being aired or published is either critical of the government or lacking comments or remarks from the government side.

It is therefore time for the security personnel to act professionally, government and party officials to act responsibly and government spokespersons to reach out to the media and treat journalists as allies, not enemies, because journalism is not a crime.

Haji Nsereko Mutumba

Former PRO Uganda Muslim Supreme Council

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