A top law professor and media scholar has pressed on Journalists to use their voices to fight militaristic culture in Uganda.
Prof. Fredrick Jjuko, Dean of the faculty of law at Uganda Martys’ University and formerly professor of law and jurisprudence at Makerere University made the call in his keynote address delivered at the launch of the Uganda Editors’ Guild on Monday 3rd World Press Freedom day.
The learned professor noted that a militaristic culture in Uganda manifests in the ruling government’s regard for political opponents as enemies, militarisation of the police, and opaque classified defense budgets, among other things.
” Militarism is an essential character of the political dispensation we have. Militarism must be fought but not in a militaristic way. A policy of appeasement should not be adopted. The answer is self organization to take collective action. The media should not be sucked in by militarism” He said.
Prof. Fredrick Jjuko, who has written extensively on the media and in 2015 authored a book entitled: ” The Fourth Estate: Media Freedom and Rights in Uganda” said it was wrong for the media to use militaristic terms and broadcast violence in positive light while ignoring its effects.
” I don’t think the media should glamourise war. When you glamourise war without showing the effects such as death, you build potential for more militarism… displaying all kinds of weaponry without saying what war does to the people is irresponsible, you create anticipation ” Prof. Jjuko said.
” When a media house describes its nerve centre as a political command center, it may seem inconsequential but the media is very influential. It should not contribute to a culture of militarism”
At the event attended by several senior editors, scholars and diplomats, it was revealed that 10% of Ugandans have lost trust in the press and that 22% are not willing to be interviewed by a Journalist.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Daniel Kalinaki, the General Manager Nation Media Group Uganda and Chairman of the newly launched Uganda Editors’ Guild said: ” the diminishing trust in media reflects on us not doing enough on speaking on the role of the media.”
Relations between Journalists and the state especially security forces have been strained largely due to brutality meted out against Journalists doing their work.
A soccer game was held between the UPDF and media executives last month apparently to improve relations.
Speaking at the event, UPDF spokesperson, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso acknowledged more needs to be done.
” We are not saying that because we played football with Journalists that is enough, no, that is the rolling of the ball. We acknowledge that there is a lot to more to be done.” She said.
“Security is mandated to protect the lives of Ugandans. We have had some excesses but we have the mandate to do that. I request the media to be balanced. We should report both the good and bad”