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“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.” These words are noted down in one of the most influential and most translated documents of all times – the Universal Declaration of human rights.
There is consensus across the globe that democracy and press freedom go hand in hand. And this is not only because the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press are fundamental rights that every democratic society is expected to uphold and protect. The relationship between the democratic system and the free media is much deeper. Indeed both elements are inter-related and mutually dependent. It is hard to imagine a truly free and independent press in a non-democratic environment. And it is equally difficult to think of a strong democracy that does not feature press freedom as one of its key ingredients.
The media - regardless of whether in a printed, broadcasted or online form - provide reliable and up-to-date information for the citizens. And only an informed citizenry can effectively engage in social, political and economic decision-making processes and thereby promote democratic development.
Since free and independent media are a core element of any democratic system, their promotion is part of the mission and responsibility of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) worldwide. In Uganda, KAS has been working together with the Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) for several years with the aim of professionalising journalists and raising awareness on the importance of press freedom in the country.
This study is yet another milestone in the fruitful cooperation between KAS and UMDF. And it comes at a very timely moment: 2012 marks Uganda’s „Golden Jubilee“– the anniversary of 50 years of independence. This provides an occasion not only for celebrations but also for reflections about what has been accomplished over the last 50 years and a critical assessment of the status quo.
Looking at the last two decades, there have been remarkable achievements in the areas of peace and stabilisation, democratisation and economic development. However, recent assessments by Freedom House and Reporters without Borders have pointed out remaining challenges in regard to press freedom and its protection. Thus, continuous efforts are required on all sides: on the side of the media itself, but also from relevant actors in politics and civil society to promote press freedom and raise awareness on its importance for democracy.
This publication, written by the outstanding media and communication expert Dr. Michael Kakooza, provides a significant input for the debate on the freedom and independence of the media in Uganda. In a systematic and analytical manner it goes beyond the superficial discussion of the current challenges. Instead, it places the issue of media independence in a historical context and connects it to the discourse on governance and power politics.
I am convinced that this study can provide an excellent reference not only for media experts and scholars but for stakeholders from all spheres of society. It enables us to understand how the independent press in Uganda has evolved over time, which challenges it continues to face and where to find the causes. Knowing the causes helps meeting the challenges – and improves our joint efforts towards a free and independent media in Uganda.
You can download the whole report as pdf.
About this series
The series analyses developmental challenges in the political, social and economic sphere in Uganda. The editions examine hot topics of the daily political agenda and undertake a rigorous reality check. Reality Check is published in cooperation with Centre for Development Alternatives.