Foreign Journalists Denied Accreditation



Foreign journalists are up in arms against government for refusing to accredit them without clear reasons. Section 29(1) of the Press and Journalists Act requires all foreign journalists who wish to report from Uganda to get accreditation from the Media Council of Uganda through Uganda Media center.

The accreditation is considered complete if the journalist pays the specified fees and is issued a card. Foreign journalists applying for accreditation are expected to present a cover letter from their employer addressed to the Executive Director Media center stating the purpose of their visit, two passport size photographs, and scanned copy of their passport, filled in form G.

Those who intend to stay a period of not less than 3 months pay Shillings 600,000 while those who wish to stay beyond 3 to six months pay Shillings 800,000. However, the Foreign Correspondents Association in Uganda-FCAU says 10 foreign journalists been denied accreditation by government from August this year despite following the laid down procedures.

According to the association, although the process has been quick and straight forward in the past, applicants are now being tossed by the media council. The association notes that it is unfortunate that this is happening at a time when rights of the media in Uganda are being violated.

"FCAU is also concerned that this action comes at a time when journalists in Uganda are experiencing a much tougher working environment following the arrest of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu last month," reads a statement from FCAU.

A journalist from Europe told PRIME RADIO on condition of anonymity that she has been chasing her accreditation for close to a month in vain. "Still no accreditation, I am told they have frozen the process and I may have to leave soon. They won't give out any accreditation and they just told me out of pity when I begged them that officially all accreditations are under review," the source told PRIME RADIO.

PRIME RADIO has also learnt that some Ugandan journalists who correspond for foreign media also don't have accreditation, except those who had valid cards. "The current denials are new people who want to come and start and you know without accreditation you cannot do anything," one of the journalists said.

However the Executive Director Media Centre, Ofwono Opondo denies claims that government has stopped accrediting foreign journalists, saying it has only tightened the process, adding that this has nothing to do with MP, Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.

He says they have been accrediting journalists after providing the identity card of their news organization and letters from their regional bureaus but they have changed the process to include background checks.

Asked whether they have turned away any journalists, Opondo said he had personally cleared some journalists.


Minister defends President on New Anti-Corruption Unit



The Ethics and Integrity Minister, Rev Fr. Simon Lokodo has defended the decision by President, Yoweri Museveni to create separate teams to handle corruption cases in the country.

During the State of the Nation Address in June this year, president, Museveni named a team of comprising James Tweheyo, Martha Asiimwe and Sister Akiror that will handle corruption complaints under his office.

Museveni noted that he had decided to set up the unit following numerous complaints against the Inspectorate of Government for failing to fight corruption. In his four hour long nation address at State House in Entebbe on Sunday last week,

Museveni said corruption has remained one of the major challenges to his government. He noted that the vice has persisted because those who aid and practice it are not exposed. As part of his efforts to fight the vice, he announced a toll free number 0800-100770 in his office and asked Ugandans to volunteer information on corruption.

He also gave out the number of his aide, Major Edith Nakalema to respond to the complaints. The president's decision to appoint several units has since drawn complaints from civil society activists, saying it will weaken the Inspectorate of Government, which is mandated to handle corruption.

However, the Ethics and Integrity Minister, Rev Fr. Simon Lokodo, says there is no need to worry, saying the new unit will only complement the work of the Inspectorate of Government. He explains that the unit will receive and forward complaints to the IG for proper investigations.

He was speaking to PRIME RADIO in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Joint Extractive Industry Stakeholder's engagement workshop at Serena Hotel in Kampala organised by the Inspectorate of Government, Office of the Auditor General and Public Procurement and Public Assets Disposal Authority on Wednesday.

The Deputy Inspector General of Government, George Bamugemereire, says they have been reflecting on how to address the president's dissatisfaction with their work following his pronouncements.

Bamugemereire says the IG is mapping out viable opportunities to improve its work.



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