By Cecilia Okoth
GOVERNMENT has expressed concern over information that sections of the media continue to publish saying it is detrimental to the country’s security.
According to the Minister of Information and National Guidance, Rose Namayanja, Government is set to crack down such media houses as well as take them to the courts of law.
“I want to warn the media houses that publish information that not only endangers individuals but also the country. If our troops are in war say in Somalia or even here, much as you are entitled to know, the Government for security reasons cannot disclose the nature of arms and capabilities that our soldiers are going to use,” the minister said.
She added that, “In the event that the enemy lands on such information, our troops can be over run and once they are over run, there are Ugandans that can be killed but also the country can be in danger.”
Namayanja was speaking to journalists at Imperial Royale Hotel on Thursday after launching a web portal called ‘Ask Your Government’. The website is intended to promote access to information in Uganda.
“Whereas there is freedom of expression, there are some journalists who go overboard to publish people’s genitals and also reveal health statuses of certain individuals, a matter that is entirely confidential,” she said adding that there will be penalties for such people.
The minister also launched a report done by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre dubbed the right of access to information in Africa.
Ask your Government is a Ugandan web portal, (www.askyourgov.ug) where citizens can make information requests to information officers from the different public bodies including ministries, departments and agencies of the Government of Uganda.
It is driven by the core goal of promoting transparency and government citizen interaction through the use of information and communication technologies toward good governance and improved service delivery.
Ask your Government platform is also aimed at facilitating the implementation of the 2005 Access to Information Act which promotes transparency and accountability of the state to citizens through making information open and available to all citizens including civil society organisations, the media, and human rights defenders among other stakeholders.
Government in collaboration with Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Coalition of Freedom of Information and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa is promoting implementation of the tool among information officers and citizens.
Namayanja said Government will also use the web portal for planning by identifying the types of information that citizens most request. “The platform will increase the public scrutiny that the Ugandan government subjects itself to which will enhance transparency and accountability to citizens.
Simon Mayende, a director in the Information Ministry stressed the commitment of the Ministry towards ensuring that the public accesses information held by all public bodies.
Moses Watasa, a Commissioner in the Office of the Prime Minister said sh200m had been set aside to train district information officers to use several social media platforms that will help them use the platforms to disseminate information easily.