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In Uganda, Security Starts With the Individual

In Uganda, Security Starts With the Individual

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A mid-May training in Uganda focused on safety and security, especially in regards to digital concerns. Participants say the one-day training was educational, interactive and important, and they hope to see more like it in the future.

By Colette Davidson

A recent safety training in Kampala started with a bit of fun. Trainer Brian Byaruhanga of the Defenders Protection Initiative had participants sit in pairs, studying each other’s faces and drawing a picture of the other. He then asked the group of journalists to describe the challenges they face in their daily work in terms of safety and security.

Some of the most common questions and challenges for participants were related to digital concerns. “Why is my email always hacked into and what can I do to keep it safe?” “How can I keep my documents safe on my laptop and computer?” “How can I keep my documents and gadgets from being hacked into by the government or other such agencies?”

“Brian first took us through why people are able to hack into our emails and social media accounts, how vulnerable we can be, and how security starts with the individual,” says Carol Alyek, the Uganda Media Freedom Committee regional chair.

The group learned a handful of helpful skills, such as having a two-step verification method to keep emails safe, avoiding using public WiFi as much as possible, and using only secure websites and platforms to share information.

Byaruhanga also discussed the necessity of physical security while out reporting, and what journalists can do to stay safe.

“Safety starts with an individual because no story is worth a life,” says participant Sarah Kibisi, a journalist at Workers’ Eye magazine and PML Daily. “For example, when covering a riot, I have to protect myself and my camera before the police come.”

Fellow participant Paul Tajuba, a journalist at the Daily Monitor, says the section on digital security was especially useful as he has experienced email hacking or having his calls intercepted.

“The most important take home in the training for me was how I can protect my email accounts and how to encrypt documents,” says Tajuba. “The other take home was how not to fall for phishing schemers and downloading files when I do not know the senders.”

As the training came to a close, with time for questions from the group, there was a general sentiment that one day had not been enough to address all the issues. One participant suggested that a similar training be held in Arua, where journalists badly need safety and security information. Others hoped to be included in future trainings.

“Nevertheless, there were many tips and lessons people picked up and began using immediately,” says Alyek.

For Kibisi, she says that looking forward, the training will have an impact on the professional lives of participants. “It will encourage more journalists to make their safety a big deal if they have not been doing it already.”


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2018-05-29 13:04

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...