Activists condemn parliament for summoning news editors over negative stories
Rights activists have condemned a move by Uganda’s parliament to summon news editors over what the speaker Rebecca Kadaga described as negative stories against the August House.
On September 29th, parliament issued summons to news editors of four media organisations to explain what MPs term as “unbalanced reporting” about the legislature.
In a letter dated September 28, addressed to the news editor of Daily Monitor, Red Pepper, The Observer and Uganda Radio Network, the chairman of the committee on rules, privileges and discipline, Kenneth Ongalo, said “we need to clarify on your publications regarding parliament’s expenditure during the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) conference in Boston, Massachusetts.”
However, Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda (HRNJ-U) has condemned the move.
HRNJ National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala said the move is the climax of efforts by Parliament to try to intimidate, send fear and shock waves to the media that is out to critically analyse its performance.
According to the summons, the news editors are slated to appear before the committee on Wednesday, October 5 for questioning.
The media houses are faulted among other things over reports written about parliament expenditure on the UNAA conference, MPs burial expenditure, MPs cars and Ipads, among others.
On September 15, Kadaga ordered Parliament’s Committee on Rules and Privilege to investigate journalists who write what she considers negative stories against the institution.
Giving the order, the Speaker said the investigation should be with the aim “of charging the reporters with contempt of Parliament.”
The Speaker’s order came after a close to two-hour debate on what the MPs termed as negative press carefully crafted to tarnish the image of the House.
Kadaga complained about stories that appeared in the media, in particular the Daily Monitor story about Parliament budgeting to spend Shs68m as burial costs for an MP who dies.
Our sources have also confirmed that the director of Communications in Parliament Chris Obore has been visiting different media houses, especially Daily Monitor where he formerly worked hauling threats of how Kadaga and her henchmen are baying for journalists’ blood after they wrote following the stories that exposed their greed.