His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
P. O. Box 25497, Kampala, UGANDA.
Fax: +256 414 235 462
27 May 2013
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at a raid by armed police on The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers and their subsequent closure, as well as the forcing off air of two radio stations which share office space with The Monitor.
According to reports, on the morning of 20 May heavily armed security personnel cordoned off The Daily Monitorand Red Pepperpublications, then forced KFM and Dembe FM radio stations, which are housed within The Monitor’s premises, off air. Security forces searching the premises reportedly claimed that they had a court order declaring the building a ‘crime scene’. The newspapers and radio stations remained closed on 21 May.
The raid follows the publication of a leaked memo by a senior general alleging that you are grooming your son Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed you and that those who oppose him risk being murdered.
This act of censorship and intimidation occurred only one week after Ugandan politicians were at the forefront of a resolution supporting press freedom at the Pan African Parliament (PAP).
The Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa was unanimously endorsed by members of the PAP, which also recognised our organisations’ Declaration of Table Mountain, which calls for greater press freedom in Africa, and launched an annual media freedom index for the continent.
During the PAP discussion, Ugandan parliamentary member Hon. Sam Amooti Otada said: “We believe in the media as the fourth estate, because in Uganda, we understand where there is no free media there is no democracy.” In line with the Midrand Declaration, we respectfully call on you to immediately end the blockade of The Daily Monitor, Red Pepper, KFM and Dembe FM so that they may carry out their journalistic role of informing the public. We urge you to take all possible steps to ensure that in future Uganda fully respects its international obligations to freedom of expression
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
Hon. Onyango KAKOBA, Chair, Justice and Human Rights Committee, Pan African Parliament
Hon. Sam Amooti Otada, Committee on Transport, Industry, Energy, Communication, Sicence and Technology Pan African Parliament.