New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Corrupt Officials, Drug Traffickers Targetting Journalists

Journalists are being targeted by corrupt officials and those engaged in organised crime, a recent phenomenon that the United Nations (UN) has identified and is ready to fight.

The matter came to light during a UN Inter-Agency meeting on safety of journalists in Vienna, Austria from November 22 to 23.

Buikwe North MP Onyango Kakoba, who attended the meeting in his capacity as chairperson of the committee on justice and human rights in the Pan African Parliament, said the meeting was concerned about the increasing harassment of journalists worldwide.

The purpose of the meeting, he said, was to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to protect journalists while they execute their duties.

By October, 129 journalists had been killed in the course of their duties, 32 of whom were in Syria and 18 in Somalia, he said. The death is almost double that of last year where 67 journalists were killed.

In 2007, 87 journalists were killed while in 2006, 84 suffered the same fate.

"Most killings have been happening in situations of armed conflict. Now, journalists are being targeted by people involved in corruption, and organised crime such as drug traffickers," Kakoba said.

He revealed that they identified five countries namely Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan and another country that will be identified from Latin America for a project on protecting journalists.

The participants also agreed that once crimes against freedom of expression are upgraded to crimes against humanity, offenders would be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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