By Ronald Kule, Kasese
Media practitioners in Kasese region have met for the first time in a period of 21 years to tackle issues of professionalism and career challenges under a dialogue organized by African center for media excellence and freedom house.
The dialogue was in commemoration of the world press freedom day that is usually celebrated on 3rd may annually.
According to John Thawithe a veteran journalist in Kasese who has been in the field of journalism for the last 23 years, the dialogue marks the reunion of journalists in Kasese because they have not gathered before like this for the last 21years.
Thawithe who doubles as the communication officer for Kasese district local government says although there is a relatively fair working environment for the media in Uganda because in the past the situation was so hard, suppression of media rights harassment and other professional challenges still exists.
However the Kasese District Assistant Chief Administration Officer Wilson Asaba reminded reporters that freedom of expression is not an absolute right thus reminding the media to also check their professional behaviors.
In his report to the dialogue, Saimon Bikeke the coordinator Umbrella for Journalists in Kasese a membership body for media practitioners in Kasese reported cases of harassment, arrests, verbal intimidation by media owners against their workers and threats from security circles as challenges still affecting the media space in Kasese
Ngangasi Daniel a journalism school owner in Kasese also noted that critical journalism is under attack, interfered with by the state through censorship, internet shut down and attacks against journalists.
On behalf of police, the Rwenzori east regional police commander SP Ceaser Julius Tusingwire recognized the role of the media in combating crimes through reporting, identifying criminals and enabling police to access security information.
Tusingwire noted that the only disagreeing part of police and the media is on the exercise of police authority versus the media freedom rights whereby reporters sometimes have fallen victims of police teargas, arrests and censorship
The situational analysis of the media in Rwenzori region according to James Thembo the station manager UBC-Ngeya FM Kasese is that the media still get compromised while covering tribal related conflicts whereas some news reporters are being branded as opposition and NRM and sometimes have been chased away from functions organized by politicians and others beaten while covering tribal conflicts.END