The Media Council of Uganda has issued new guidelines for accreditation of Journalists participating in the coverage of 2021 elections and other events.
The media council was established under Section 8 of the Press and Journalist Act, Cap 105; to regulate the conduct and promote good ethical standards and discipline of journalists; to arbitrate disputes between— i) the public and the media; and ii) the State and the media; to exercise disciplinary control over journalists, editors and publishers.
Other functions of the media council are; to promote, generally, the flow of information; to censor films, videotapes, plays and other related apparatuses for public consumption; and to exercise any function that may be authorized or required by any law.
For according to a statement from the Council released on Tuesday morning, they have been registering reporters and editorial staff of Media Houses to ensure the industry is well monitored and sanitized from quacks.
“It also became apparent that there was a need for registration and certification of media practitioners to ensure recognition by state players and, therefore, giving them a safe pass to cover events and relay information to the public. Recent events of election coverage have shown that reporters/media practitioners are exposed to a lot of danger from all sides of the divide” part of the statement reads.
The Media Council says it has engaged security agencies to find a solution to enable free movement and access by media practitioners to important events, in particular during this election period without undue harassment.
“As such, it has been agreed that all persons covering election Page 2 of 3 events should hold a press tag issued by the Media Council. Without it no one will be allowed to cover events. This is primarily for the safety of the practitioners. Therefore, the Media Council hereby notifies all media houses, their staff, freelancers and other stakeholders that it is accrediting journalists and media practitioners for coverage of events in Uganda in accordance with Section 8(1)(d) which provides for promotion, generally, of the law of information”.
The council says this exercise has been ongoing but has been under review in the past few days. It resumes next week and that Form G has been re-designed and will be uploaded on the Council website www.mediacouncil.go.ug this afternoon. All the procedures are available there. Media houses, editors, journalists and practitioners that obtained accreditation for the year 2020 are required to apply for renewal for the year 2021 given that all current press passes will expire on 31st December, 2020.
In addition, freelancers and foreign media practitioners intending to cover the forthcoming elections are required to obtain a Special Media Pass from the Media Council on request, showing particular geographical or thematic areas of intended media coverage.
Accordingly, all Special Media Passes issued by the Media Council of Uganda shall expire on 30th March, 2020. The Pass issued by the Media Council of Uganda contains security features that can be verified by Security agencies.
The council has been under fire for timing of this registration, with many people claiming it is trying to gag media practitioners.