Uganda | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The basic law grants citizens the right to freedom of expression, but the authorities sometimes infringe on the ability of journalists to gather and disseminate information. In addition, the penal code, criminal libel and sedition laws, and the 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act criminalize "publication of false news" and other press offenses. There is at times an inordinate degree of self-censorship among journalists and news outlets covering an armed insurrection in the northern regions. This year, the government again banned radio stations in the northeastern town of Soroti from broadcasting any news about the rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army. In June, authorities charged the private Kyoga Veritaas FM of inciting panic and promoting the rebel agenda after it contradicted government statements that the rebels had abducted a number of civilians. The station was let back on the air on August 31, with some restrictions. Despite these enduring problems, the Ugandan media sector continues to grow and to improve in quality. Dozens of private publications and broadcasters now compete with the government's own media outlets, which include the popular daily New Vision; Radio Uganda, the only national radio station; and Uganda Television, which has been accused of strong government bias. The law still requires would-be journalists to possess university-level degrees, and newspapers can be shut down or denied state information. For example, in June, State House banned a prominent local columnist from attending presidential functions in retaliation for a story on the alleged crash of an Army helicopter in the rebel-held north in October 2002. Then in November, the attorney general prohibited the media from reporting on declarations of assets and liabilities by political leaders. As the nation awaits the Supreme Court's ruling on the legality of the law prohibiting the "publication of false news," journalists have been lobbying parliament to enact a freedom-of-information law, so far to little avail.