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His Lordship Benjamin Odoki has advised journalists to make use of the Judicial Public Relations and Communications Office to establish and maintain good relations with the courts; in order to help share information on the administration of justice in Uganda and its dissemination to the public. Hon Odoki made the remarks while opening a four-day training for court reporters organised by Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) at Mukono Resort Hotel.
The workshop which was organised in collaboration with the Uganda Court Reporters Association (UCRA) is fourth in a series under the 2008 UMDF media training activities supported by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS). The Mukono workshop which attracted 23 participants was intended to sharpen the skills of court reporters from both the broadcasting and print media in reporting court processes.
Hon Odoki asked the media to be partners in enhancing accountability of the judiciary as an arm of the state, through informing the public about what is going on in courts of law. He argued that public access to court proceedings was one of the cornerstones of the justice system and therefore urged the media to report effectively about the courts. “Ensuring that the dispensing justice remains transparent is a legitimate role of the media, even to the extent of reporting cases where the accused are cleared and their good name is retained”, he noted.
Hon Odoki however cautioned journalists on fairness and accuracy, noting that they were particular requirements in the partnership between the media and the judiciary in order to protect the media from actions such as defamation. “The demand for accuracy must not be confused with any expected requirement to report only what is true. Allegations that may eventually prove to be unfounded must be reported accurately, even if they are wrong. Parties to court actions who believe that lies have been said about them sometimes blame the media when their complaint might in fact be with court and its conduct of the case,” he advised.