By Mable Nakibuuka
The United States Of America has called upon the government of Uganda to ensure that security apparatus end brutality against journalists and all acts of gagging the media from doing their work.
The call on government to ensure that rights of journalists are protected is emphasized in a tweet by the US Mission in Uganda on December 15th, 2020;
“Journalists safeguard democracy by investigating, observing, and sharing information, sometimes overcoming great challenges to do so. The U.S. recognizes the work of dedicated journalists in Uganda and elsewhere for their essential role. Knowledge is power. #ProtectJournalists”
However, this comes at a time the Uganda police have since banned journalists from covering the ongoing presidential campaigns unless they get accreditation from the Uganda Media Council (UMC).
Indeed, in their bid to further clamp down on the media, the government of Uganda has since written to the management Google Inc and Facebook asking them to close down several online TV stations, blogs and media outlets that have been identified as anti-government because of broadcasting National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine’s presidential campaigns.
Some of the Online TV stations and blogs that government wants Google to shut down include; TMO online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel Ug, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Ghetto TV, Busesa Media Updates and Uganda Empya, Map Mediya TV, KK TV, Ekyooto TV, Namungo Media, JB Muwonge 2, Bobi Wine 2021.
According to UCC, the channels were used to mobilise riots that resulted in the loss of several lives and property in Uganda. The riots broke out in Kampala on November 18, 2020 and spread to other parts of the country following the arrest of Bobi Wine.
However, this website has learnt that Google has since advised the government of Uganda through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to file a case in court against any (or) all the media platforms they have grievances against, because an abrupt closure of any media outlet would attract several litigation problems.
So in a bid to block the online media platforms from operating, government has since decided levy heavy taxes on their operators as envisaged in an advert in one of the local dailies which was issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), reminding all Non-Residential operators of Electronic Services like Websites, blogs, web-hosting or remote maintenance of programs and equipment, etc that they have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT).