2021 Elections: Gov’t Sets Tough Conditions for Foreign Journalists

Possession of a temporary work permit is one of the new restrictive conditions the Ugandan government has issued to foreign journalists intending to come to Uganda to cover next year’s general elections.
  

Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala that, apart from having official media credential card issued by Uganda media center as it has been in the past, all foreign journalists must get the temporary working permits and a special pass.      

The special pass expires within three to five days after which, the holders will be required to renew it if they have to spend extra days in the country.

Siminyu said thay this has been put in place to avoid people from doing other things unrelated to what they were accredited for while entering Uganda.    

But a foreign journalist who covered the 2016 elections but preferred not to be named expressed fears that the government is trying to find reason to bar more foreign journalists coming into the country. 

He said that in the past elections, only a media credential card  issued by the Media Council was  required to cover the elections as compared to the current times when a lot of things are being asked.    

 “Nowadays we see journalists being deported day in day out, even if one is having some of  these credentials. The Government is doing everything possible to avoid outside scrutiny of the January 14 elections,” the journalist said.        

Earlier this month, Uganda deported journalists attached to CBC News, a Canadian public broadcaster, who were in the country to cover the 2021 General Election.

The journalists included Margaret Evans, Lily Martin and Jean-Francois Bisson, a videographer.

On why the journalists were deported despite the fact that they held accreditation cards from the Media Council of Uganda, Ofwono Opondo the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre said that the journalists were accredited to cover COVID-19 and tourism in Bwindi Forest but were found doing other things different to what they were accredited for.

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