GV Uganda: Gay Rights Activist Found Murdered

This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with David’s friends and family, and with the Ugandan GLBT community as a whole.

Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was found murdered yesterday, just weeks after winning a court case against a local newspaper that had called for Ugandans to “hang” homosexuals.

Uganda has been in the news for gay rights issues since October 2009, when Member of Parliament David Bahati tabled a bill that would provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty for not only homosexuals but also anyone found to be supporting or promoting gay rights.

The proposed bill has stirred up considerable anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, including the publication by local newspaper Rolling Stone [no relation to Rolling Stone Magazine] of a list of 100 suspected homosexuals and their addresses. Kato was on the list, and his face was on the paper’s front page.

Read the full post on Global Voices Online »

Australian radio show features citizen journalism in Uganda

After I published an article for the Committee to Protect Journalists on citizen journalism during the Kampala riots, Shevonne Hunt of Australian radio show The Fourth Estate contacted me to talk about the role Twitter and blogs played in the crisis.

Solomon King (the force behind Ugandan blog aggregator Blogspirit and one of the most prolific tweeters during the riots) and I are featured in the show’s most recent podcast. You can access it at The Fourth Estate (scroll down to the bottom, click “Show Episodes,” and choose the episode from September 25).

As Solomon says, hope I did all of you justice!

There Will Be Ink

The research I did in Uganda in January has just been published.

There Will be Ink: A study of journalism training and the extractive industries in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda (PDF) is the product of research I conducted with five other students from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in the spring of 2009.

We surveyed media coverage of the extractive sector and interviewed African journalists who had training in business and economic reporting. Our goal was to identify the training practices that are most helpful in teaching journalists how to encourage government transparency in the extractive industries through their reporting.

The journalists surveyed said that journalism training had improved their coverage of the extractives, but we concluded that there are other challenges in the African media landscape that are not addressed by training. These include low salaries, lack of resources, pressure from government and advertisers and the lack of freedom of information laws. The report includes recommendations for organizations planning journalism training activities in countries with extractive sectors.

Wedding rush sparked by free malaria nets

The Onion is good, but it definitely doesn’t have a monopoly on satirical journalism. Yesterday Uganda’s Weekly Observer published this breaking headline:

Uganda: Millions More to Wed As Govt Doles Out Mosquito Nets

“When we asked the couples why they have chosen this particular time to enter holy matrimony, they all had the same answer: that government was going to give them free wedding gowns!” said a source at Peter’s Church of Uganda in Kampala. The source added that when they investigated further, they realized that the couples were referring to the government’s recent announcement to distribute over 17 million free mosquito nets to combat malaria, which is the leading killer disease in the country. According to health officials, malaria kills 320 people daily.

Asked whether converting mosquito nets into wedding gowns would not undermine government efforts to reduce malaria deaths, one church official said that “the soul is more important than the body.”

Well played, Weekly Observer. Well played.

Ugandan journalist, 10 others arrested for treason

The New Vision is reporting that Patrick Otim, a Pader-based freelance journalist, was arrested and charged with treason along with 10 other men. The group was allegedly forming a rebel organization to fight against the Ugandan government:

They allegedly mobilised logistical support for their rebellion, which included satellite phones, solar panels, Global Positioning System (GPS) machines, black polythene sheets, gum boots, walkie talkies, laptops and fire-arms.

The 11 suspects appeared before Buganda Road Court Magistrate Geoffrey Sayekwo but were not allowed to enter plea because the court did not have jurisdiction. They were unkempt.

Sayekwo read out the charges before sending them on remand to Luzira Prison. They face a second, alternative charge of concealing treason.

The suspects, according to the charge sheet, committed the offence between 2006 and May 2009 in eight districts, including Masindi and Kampala. The other districts are Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Nebbi, Apac and Amuru.

Blogren, have you heard anything about this?