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Lawyers, journalists out to fight for press freedom
Publish Date: Feb 20, 2014
Lawyers, journalists out to fight for press freedom
Member of Uganda Media Council Haruna Kanabi (left) and executive director the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) Francis Gimara (right) in discussion with media and legal fraternity at a breakfast meeting in Kampala. PHOTO/Wilfred Sanya
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By Wilfred Sanya

Ugandan lawyers have come out strongly in a bid to fight what they call colonial laws that they say suppress press freedoms which consequently affects their work.

In their efforts, they have called on journalists to join them to fight laws hurting media freedoms.

The executive director of Centre for Public International Law, Francis Gimara, believes the laws made during the colonial era are “no longer applicable to press freedom rights”.

During a breakfast meeting for media and lawyers at Metropole in Kampala on Wednesday, Gimara said the existing laws do not guarantee the rights of the press.

He said they are not in line with the interpretation of Article 29 of the constitution by the late Justice Joseph Mulenga, who underlined that the law “clearly expressed freedom of the press”.

Now the lawyers, together with the journalists, are seeking to collectively do away with the outdated laws.

They believe that journalists need to be protected, and not attacked, by police while going about their duties.

The group said they would sue police who harass journalists in the line of duty.

“Personal appeals of hiding under the arms of the Attorney General must stop.The police officers shall come to court and defend themselves on  their own,” said Girama.

“By putting ourselves together as a forum, we hope that other bodies like the Uganda Journalist Association [UJA] will join us.”

Catherine Arude of Human Rights for Journalists Association says regulatory bodies still have gaps, mentioning a case of media houses being closed for some time through improper procedures.

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