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ARTICLE 19 raises freedom of expression concerns for upcoming Universal Periodic Review

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London, 14.03.11 - In preparation for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in Uganda, ARTICLE 19 has submitted a report highlighting the country's restrictive legislation related to the media and freedom of expression; the failure of the government to implement the access to information legislation; and the frequent attacks on journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents.

ARTICLE 19's submission focuses on restrictive legislation regarding media and freedom of expression. These laws include various offences related to promotion of sectarianism, criminal defamation, and terrorism under the Ugandan Penal Code, that are vague and overbroad and susceptible to abuse. The submission also highlights the licensing of journalists under the 1995 Press and Journalist Act, the provisions of the 2002 Suppression of Terrorism Act, and the recent Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2010.

These laws are often used by the Ugandan government to prosecute journalists, creating an environment where the media has to operate in an intimidating atmosphere. The principal consequence of this is self-censorship by many journalists. Serious concerns are also raised in the submission regarding the numerous instances of violence against journalists, media workers and human rights defenders, the safety of LGBTI activists, as well as an ongoing trend of impunity for perpetrators of such violence. ARTICLE 19 calls for full implementation of the 2005 Access to Information Act, especially in areas such as health-care and environmental information.

The submission outlines a series of recommendations to both the Ugandan government and to the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider prior to and during the review. ARTICLE 19 is ready to assist the Ugandan government in the review of laws and policies limiting freedom of expression. ARTICLE 19 has been working in Uganda for a number of years and is actively supporting the freedom of expression campaign in preparation for the review. In the past, we have analysed the Press and Journalists Act, the freedom of information law and intervened in a case before the Supreme Court in a successful challenge to false news provisions in the penal code.

Click here to download the submission

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