OHCHR Uganda strengthens media’s capacity to promote fundamental freedoms

Thirty media professionals from Karamoja, Soroti, Mbale and Kapchorwa were trained on fundamental freedoms and women’s empowerment from 26 to 28 June 2019.

Friday 28 June 2019 (Kapchorwa) – OHCHR in partnership with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) organized the three days training in Kapchorwa with an aim to ensure the furtherance of public freedoms and women’s empowerment through media reporting. Participants followed thematic sessions and carried out practical exercises on human rights principles and standards applicable to public freedoms, mainly freedom of expression, as well as on gender-sensitive reporting; State obligations to ensure the realisation of human rights; and international, regional and national mechanisms for the protection of journalists and media professionals, amongst others.

“The media and journalism have a critical role to play in the dissemination of information and fostering of public debates on human rights-related issues, and more importantly, highlighting allegations of human rights violations amidst difficulties and challenges,” Emmanuel Bryma MOMOH, speaking on behalf of the OHCHR Uganda Country Representative, pointed out at the opening of the training. He urged participants to endeavour to make human rights issues news in their own right and not only when associated with other news. Expressing the need for more human rights reporting in the media, Momoh challenged participants to inform themselves on Uganda’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments, as well as the available national institutions and mechanisms charged with their implementation.

On behalf of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Ogwang Christopher, Head of the Commission’s Karamoja regional office highlighted the key role media professionals have to play in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in particular. He expressed the Commission’s readiness to continue to support efforts that contribute to strengthening the capacities of key actors to improve human rights promotion and protection while appreciating the cooperation with OHCHR towards the organisation of the training.

The Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) also supported the training technically through facilitating sessions on the rights and duties of media professionals according to professional ethics, and on gender-sensitive reporting.

Participants expressed appreciation for the training and appealed for more regular training and follow-up including for media professionals in other districts. “The training gave us important insights into fundamental freedoms, women’s rights and gender issues, but also on our responsibility towards our personal safety and security. This will greatly change the way we report,” Sister Atim Sylvia of Radio Maria Moroto, told the organizers. Another participant, Stanley Ebele of the Voice of Karamoja, Kotido said, “learning how to frame our stories from a human rights angle was a key aspect of the training. This will help give a human face to our stories and draw more public interest.”