Uganda Law Society to set up pro bono fund to support journalists 

Uganda Law Society to set up pro bono fund to support journalists 
ULS President Bernard Oundo.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has announced its plans to establish a pro bono fund dedicated to supporting journalists and advancing media rights across the country. The concept of pro bono involves professionals providing services without charge.

Bernard Oundo, the President of the legal fraternity, shared this initiative during the recent Editor’s Guild Dinner, organized in collaboration with Metropolitan Republic, Stanbic Bank, Uganda Law Society, and Uganda Airlines.

Oundo emphasized that creating a pro bono fund is crucial for the Law Society to actively promote press freedom, which has faced challenges from influential government officials and agencies on multiple occasions.

Highlighting the significant role of the media as a watchdog for accountability, transparency, and safeguarding the public interest, Oundo stressed the importance of ensuring journalists feel protected in carrying out their vital responsibilities.

“We are living in interesting times where the legal aspect is evolving, our world is changing and as guardians of the rule of law, the Uganda Law Society is committed to fostering a legal environment that is just, fair, and accessible to all,” Oundo said adding that all that can’t be achieved without the media.

He commended the hosts of the Editors’ Guild Dinner, highlighting the significance of such forums in enhancing understanding on vital issues like the rule of law, human rights, access to justice, and the independence of the judiciary. He emphasized the importance of addressing other crucial aspects concerning the well-being of the people and the nation as a whole.

In addition, he mentioned plans for the Uganda Law Society to collaborate with stakeholders, including the Uganda Media Council, in organizing further training sessions. The goal is to ensure alignment and shared understanding, fostering cooperation among the involved parties.

“The next thing we want to do in collaboration with the media is to establish a pro bono for journalists. Apart from the training, we are going to discuss more with the Editors’ Guild so that our lawyers can represent journalists free of charge. We believe that way, we foster freedom of speech,” Oundo said, calling upon the media to also promote legal literacy.

Bernard Oundo says that more training to journalists will be conducted by the Uganda Law Society in partnership with stakeholders like the Uganda Media Council so that they can walk on the same page.

Nevertheless, Oundo underscored the significance of responsible journalism, emphasizing that even as the media acts as a check on power, it must wield this influence with a strong sense of responsibility and integrity.

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Oundo echoed the importance of collaborative efforts to guarantee that the stories presented by the media are not only compelling but also characterized by accuracy and fairness.

“Through open dialogue and collaboration, we can build a legal framework that truly serves the needs and aspirations of the people of Uganda,” he said.

Stanbic Bank’s Head of Reputation and Communication, Kenneth Agutamba, urged journalists to adopt a similar approach to the legal fraternity’s commitment to the spirit of the law.

Agutamba emphasized the need for the media to enhance its journalistic principles to effectively combat the proliferation of fake news, particularly on online platforms. He suggested that embracing the essence of journalism would contribute to maintaining accuracy and credibility in reporting.