Ugandan journalists honoured with Lord Astor award for defending media freedom


Two journalists from the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJU) were in absentia chosen as people that deserve for the Lord Astor Award.

Robert Ssempala-coordinator and legal officer Diana Nandudu were recognised by an Executive Director of one of the British leading newspaper the Telegraph, Lord Guy Black, who also doubles as the Chairman of Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) Media Trust for the duo’s role in helping Ugandan journalists who are currently facing police brutality.

In his speech at The Red Fort Restaurant-Soho Central London at the dinner, on the first day of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA ) conference, the Telegraph boss, Lord Black, said : “The battle for freedom of expression is far from won in Uganda, but the dedicated work of HRNJ -has helped sustain the will to win against fearsome odds.”

“To succeed as such an indispensable and unflinching friend of press freedom is the finest tradition of CPU Astor Awards,”said Lord Black, adding that: “It’s that triumph which makes the Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda so deserving of this accolade.”

He announced that: “The Award was last made in 2005, but the Trustees have decided to make a new Award this year, which – by kind permission of the CJA – I would like to present this evening.”

“I am delighted to honour them this evening,” Lord Black said before presenting the Award to the former BBC Correspondent, Henry Gombya who was called to receive it on behalf of HRNJU that did not send the representative due to the visa problems.

The Lord Astor Award is an honour to individuals journalists and organisations of the Commonwealth to recognise their contributions and involvement to advocating the press freedom and development. It’s been honoured since 1970 in the memory of Lord William Astor of Hever for his contributions as President of Commonwealth Press Union  (CPU) and his relentless involvement to the development of press freedom.

Previously, individuals who have received this prestigious award [Lord Astor Award] include:  Mabel Strickland of Malta in 1971, Derek Ingram  (UK) in 1978, Lyle Turbull (Australia ) in 1984, Gilbert Ahnee of Mauritius in 2000, Kuldip Nayar of India in 2003 among others…

“Ugandan media has faced a perpetual litany of threats, murders, kidnap and politically-motivated or police brutality of journalists, as well as detention, censorship, criminal defamation, assault and destruction of media equipments that has persisted for decades,” said Lord Black.

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