Human rights lawyer, Simon Ssenyonga has lashed out at the media for “failure to ask tough questions” regarding Covid-19.
Ssenyonga made the remarks during a town hall meeting under the topic: “Have they given us all we must know about the pandemic.” The discussion was hosted by Lucy Chihandae, an author.
Ssenyonga stated that the biggest challenge is that the media has postured that Covid-19 is the biggest threat to the people of Uganda which is not the case.
Ssenyonga explained that science shows that the leading causes of death in Uganda is HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, maternal and neonatal disorders, malaria and other cordial muscular diseases not Covid-19.
“The biggest threat to the health of the young people of this nation, which is the majority population in the country, is actually not Covid-19 .The biggest challenge is that the media has postured that Covid-19 is the biggest threat,” he said.
Ssenyonga slammed the ministry of Health for not giving out “factual” information regarding Covid-19.
“There are basically three categories which are normally reported by the Ministry of Health. These include those infected, those who have recovered and those who are vaccinated. What we are saying is that give us factual information, don’t censor those who don’t align with your perspective but also give room to be challenged,”he advised.
“The crisis which the media is causing is that they are only giving us one sided story. We are not asking the tough questions. Science has demonstrated that Covid-19 is not the biggest killer disease. Science has shown that other nations have actually fully opened up their schools, places of worship.”
He explained that during the fight against the pandemic, there was collateral damage to the fundamental human rights of Ugandans on a number of things.
“Some of us picked specific interest in the freedom of worship because we thought that the freedom of worship is strongly associated with the freedom of assembly which is very fundamental in the realisation of dignity and human rights of the Ugandans,”he said.
The study carried out by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) on Covid-19 coverage revealed that there was a predominance of ‘straight news’ and event-based reporting about the pandemic.
The study also revealed that many stories on Covid-19 relied on officialdom including official narratives that are rarely questioned, the ubiquity of single sourcing while marginalisation of women in sourcing remained very much on display.