UCC, UJA main case slated for hearing this afternoon

By Sania Babirye
Hearing of the main application in which the Uganda Journalist Association UJA is challenging the 30th April Uganda communication Commission directive suspending head of programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses is expected this afternoon.

The application will be heard by Kampala high court judge Lydia Mugambe.
On the 22nd of May this year, Justice Lydia Mugambe issued an interim injunction stopping media houses from implementing the said of suspending 39 journalists until final determination of their case

Justice Mugambe noted that if the directive is not stopped it will impact the rights of journalists.

She further stated that although she has put into consideration UCC’s regulatory mandate, she says that the mandate should mot be uses to curtail the human rights and freedoms of the media.

She ruled that much as she is mindful of the regulatory mandate of UCC and national security , the two cannot be used as excuse to tamp on human Rights.

Justice Mugambe also wondered why a case of possible incitement of violence was reported to UCC and not the Directorate of Criminal intelligence of Police.

She described the said directive as a rush decision that was undertaken by UCC and also dismissed the resolutions that were reached up in the meeting by UCC’s with media house managers that took place on the 7th of May 2019.

In the said meeting it was resolved that the 39 journalists merely step aside instead of being suspended until the investigations are complete.

But justice Mugambe stated that the said resolutions are meant to defeat justice because there was an already pending case in court filed on the 2nd of May 2019 .

Following the court injunction, the said suspended journalists who had been ordered to step aside from their duties as producers, Head of newsrooms, production and programming following resumed their duties until court orders otherwise.

However UCC has since then filed a notice of appeal in the court of appeal saying they are dissatisfied with justice Lydia Mugambe’s ruling.

UCC lawyers led by Abdul Salam Waiswa and Mastiko told justice Mugambe had asked court to not issue the interim injunction on grounds that if the interim injunction is issued, it will undermine UCCs Authority to regulate Media houses.

These then asked court to matain the directive of the alleged 39 journalists to be given other roles until on going investigations are complete.
The journalist body(UJA) however maintained that the UCC directive is disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and that in doing so UCC exceeded the powers vested in the media council.

Through its two members, Bwire Arnold and Henry Byansi, UJA wants UCCs directive set aside by court.

According to the duo who calls themselves Human rights activists and advocates of the rule of law among other things, the UCC directive was unfair and unjust since UCC did not act fairly yet by law its mandated to be fair and just.

These claim that UCC is using the said directive to gag the mrdia,curtail free speech and freedom of expressions, impose unconstitutional limitations on the media.

These further claim that the said limitations are not acceptably and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and what is provided for under the constitution and the law.

According to the petitioners, “The aforesaid directives interfere with editorial freedom and independence of the media by purporting to set arbitrary and unconstitutional standards which are neither enshrined in the Constitution nor in the laws of Uganda generally.”

The duo say that the famous UCC directive infringes on the rights of both media houses and journalists to be heard, presumption of innocence until proved guilty and the Right to equality under the law on top of curtailing journalists rights to practice their profession and the right to fair and just administrative treatment .

The directive is also said to be very discriminating, oppressive , highhanded, arbitrary, illegal and contravenes the constitution and the law in general.

These are now asking the high court to declare the directive null and void because it is not only illegal but biased, irrational and unfair among others.

They are also seeking an injunction against UCC from proceeding in taking any action against the said media houses as per the directive.

They are worried that if court does not restrain UCC, UCC will freeze and stagnate the citizens right to information, freedom of propagation and interchange of ideas and dissemination of information which is very essential in enlightening and educating the public, formation of citizen opinion on matters of of public concern.

They further state that is court does mot restrain UCC, the rights of manu journalists will continue to be trampled upon since UCC regulates media houses.

The petition follows a 30th of April order by UCC in which it ordered 13 media houses including capital FM and its sister station Beat FM to suspend its head of news and programing and producer or failure to do so face losing their licenses.

UCC also suspended three journalists from NBS TV however, following a meeting on that day with the National association of broadcasters, UCC reascended the said suspension and instead asked the said journalists to step aside to allow on going investigations into their alleged unethical behavior to be completed.

The journalist were suspended following their coverage of the the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi wine as he was going to the CID offices at Kibuli on the 29th of April 2019.

The media houses affected included Capital radio and its sister radio beat FM.

UCC suspension directive stopped

By Sania Babirye
Kampala High court judge Lydia Mugambe has issued an interim injunction stopping media houses from implementing a directive from Uganda Communication Commission to suspend 39 journalists until final determination of their case

Justice Mugambe has noted that if the directive is not stopped it will impact the rights of journalists.

She has further stated that although she has put into consideration UCCs regulatory mandate, she says that the mandate should mot be uses to curtail the human rights and freedoms of the media.

She has further ruled that much as she is mindful of the regulatory mandate of UCC and national security , the two cannot be used as excuse to tamp on human Rights.

Justice Mugambe has also wondered why a case of possible incitement of violence was reported to UCC and not the Directorate of Criminal intelligence of Police.

She has also described the said directive as a rush decision that was undertaken by UCC and also dismissed the resolutions that were reached up in the meeting by UCC’s with media house managers that took place on the 7th of May 2019.

In the said meeting it was resolved that the 39 journalists merely step aside instead of being suspended until the investigations are complete.

But justice Mugambe has stated the said resolutions are meat to defeat justice because there was an already pending case in court filed on the 2nd of May 2019 .

Following the court injunction, the said suspended journalists who had been ordered to step aside from their duties as producers, Head of newsrooms, production and programming following can now resume their duties until court orders otherwise .

Meanwhile the main case will be heard on Tuesday next week.

On the 16th of this month, the Uganda Communication commission asked justice Lydia Mugambe to not issue an interim order stopping the 30th April directive suspending head of programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses.

UCC lawyers led by Abdul Salam Waiswa and Mastiko told justice Mugambe that if the interim injunction is issued, it will undermine UCCs Authority to regulate Media houses.
These then asked court to maintain the directive of the alleged 39 journalists to be given other roles until on going investigations are complete.
The journalist body(UJA) says the UCC directive is
disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and that in doing so UCC exceeded the powers vested in the media council.

Through its two members, calling themselves concerned citizens are seeking an interim injunction against a directive of the Uganda Communication Commission until their main case is heard and disposed off.

The petitioners include Bwire Arnold and Henry Byansi.

According to the duo who calls themselves Human rights activists and advocates of the rule of law among other things, the UCC directive was unfair and unjust since UCC did not act fairly yet by law its mandated to be fair and just.

The media houses affected included Capital radio and its sister radio beat FM.

UCC asks court to maintain directive on suspended journalists

By Sania Babirye

The Uganda Communication commission has asked high court judge Lydia Mugambe to not issue an interim order stopping the 30th April directive suspending head of programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses.

Today, UCC lawyers led by Abdul Salam Waiswa and Mastiko have told justice Mugambe that if the interim injunction is issued, it will undermine UCCs Authority to regulate Media houses.
These have now asked court to matain the directive of the alleged 39 journalists to be given other roles until on going investigations are complete.

The judge has now set the 23rd of this month to rule on the said application.
The journalist body says the UCC directive is disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and that in doing so UCC exceeded the powers vested in the media council.

Through its two members, calling themselves concerned citizens are seeking an interim injunction against a directive of the Uganda Communication Commission until their main case is heard and disposed off.

The petitioners include Bwire Arnold and Henry Byansi.

According to the duo who calls themselves Human rights activists and advocates of the rule of law among other things, the UCC directive was unfair and unjust since UCC did not act fairly yet by law its mandated to be fair and just.

These claim that UCC is using the said directive to gag the media,curtail free speech and freedom of expressions, impose unconstitutional limitations and blanket bans on the media.

These further claim that the said limitations are not acceptably and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and what is provided for under the constitution and the law.

According to the petitioners, “The aforesaid directives interfere with editorial freedom and independence of the media by purporting to set arbitrary and unconstitutional standards which are neither enshrined in the Constitution nor in the laws of Uganda generally.”

The duo say that the famous UCC directive infringes on the rights of both media houses and journalists to be heard, presumption of innocence until proved guilty and the Right to equality under the law on top of curtailing journalists rights to practice their profession and the right to fair and just administrative treatment .

The directive is also said to be very discriminating, oppressive , highhanded, arbitrary, illegal and contravenes the constitution and the law in general.

These are now asking the high court to declare the directive null and void because it is not only illegal but biased, irrational and unfair among others.

They are also seeking an injunction against UCC from proceeding in taking any action against the said media houses as per the directive.

They are worried that if court does not restrain UCC, UCC will freeze and stagnate the citizens right to information, freedom of propagation and inter change of ideas and dissemination of information which is very essential in enlightening and educating the public, formation of citizen opinion on matters of of public concern.

They further state that is court does mot restrain UCC, the rights of many journalists will continue to be trampled upon since UCC regulates media houses.

The petition follows a 30th of April order by UCC in which it ordered 13 media houses including capital FM and its sister station Beat FM to suspend its head of news and programing and producer or failure to do so face losing their licenses.

UCC also suspended three journalists from NBS Tv however, following a meeting today with the National association of broadcasters, UCC has reascended the said suspension and instead asked the said journalists to step aside to allow on going investigations into their alleged unethical behavior.

The journalist were suspended following their coverage of the the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi wine as he was going to the CID offices at Kibuli on the 29th of April 2019.

Hearing of UJA case against UCC flops

By Sania Babirye

Hearing of an interim injunction application in which the Uganda Journalist Association (UJA) seeks court to halt a directive by Uganda Communications Commission- UCC to media houses to suspend 39 journalists, has failed to take -off today before the High court.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) lawyer Abudl -Salaam Waiswa asked for more time to adequately respond to UJA’s application that was filed and served to his client yesterday.

According to Waiswa, the only available response on court file was that in a case where 2 lawyers sued UCC for similar orders.

However after a brief meeting between the 2 lawyers at court, it was agreed that the 2 cases should be consolidated since the petitioners have a common interest.

Waiswa has however refused to agree to the issuance of a formal temporary injunction that commits UCC to a resolution made yesterday to Media owners that the 39 journalists should just step a side but not be suspended .

This has prompted justice Lydia Mugambe to set 15th /May as a date to hear the interim injunction that UJA seeks .

UJA a professional body that brings journalists together and fights for their professional rights

In its application filed yesterday before the High Court in Kampala UJA sought a temporary injunction restraining the directive of UCC of suspending the producers, editors and heads of progrmme from 13 media houses before the main case challenging the same is heard.

In its main case the journalist’s body is challenging UCC’ disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and arbitrary exercise of its statutory powers, violation of media freedom, freedom of speech and expression, human rights of media workers.

UJA avers that UCC threatens to usurp the powers vested in the media council through its directive that the 13 media houses should within three days submit to the commission the names, particulars and qualifications of the producers, editors and head of programs for investigation over breach of minimum broadcasting standards.

Last week two lawyers, Ronald Bwire and Henry Byansi petitioned the same court accusing UCC of targeting media stations of airing content, especially live broadcasts of breaking news in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public.

The petitioners also want court to check UCC’s excessive powers against the media in order to ensure respect of media freedom and adherence to the rule of law and constitutionalism by other government agencies.

The media houses affected include; Radio Simba Akaboozi FM,BBS TV,Beat FM, Bukedde tv,Capital FM, CBS FM, Kingdom TV, NBS TV, NTV, Peal FM, Salt TV, Sapientia FM .

UCC asks media personnel to step aside and investigations continue

By Patricia Osman
Uganda Communications Commission and the National Association of Broadcasters have agreed that the commission continues with its investigations on media houses and individuals for alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting standards.

Addressing the media after the meeting at the UCC offices in Bugolobi, the commission’s Executive Director Eng Godfrey Mutabazi says no staff member will be suspended but they have to step aside as investigations by UCC investigators for a period of one month takes off.

“We are going to look at a number of issues including minimum broadcasting stands, education qualifications and if the stories aired are in any way influenced by an unseen hand.
“You know the Live broadcasting guidelines were written by members of the NAB and we approved the document but now it seems they have violated this particular document and this we have to look into critically,” he adds.

Mr Mutabazi further says “There have been a lot of issues with the media industry, we have been writing memos and engaging media houses for a very long time, if you look at the content aired now it’s completely different from what we agreed on, instead of news they bring documentaries, hate speech and stories that incite public violence”
Peter Mungoma, CEO Capital radio/Beat FM says the outcome of the meeting was fair enough on both sides.

“We have asked UCC to come up with specifics on the breach to each media house which they have allowed to do with focus on the news aired on the April 29th 2019 and once this is done we will then direct UCC on a way forward and hope this will be in a corrective and not punitive manner“ he said.
“We however have told UCC that we cannot suspend our staff because of the different work contracts we have with them and the commission has agreed with us on this, asking us not to suspend the affected individuals but rather ask them to step aside, Mungoma adds.

Kin Karisa chairman National Broadcasters Association says they have also agreed that these individuals can be assigned other roles in their respective media houses than have them suspended.

Asked whether the UCC directives have affected the smooth operations of different media houses he says “apart from creating scare and intimidation in different newsrooms, business is running as normal”.

On the April 30th 2019 UCC ordered 13 radio stations and TVs to suspend 39 producers, heads of programming and heads of news as it investigates alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards while covering the arrest of Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on April 29th 2019.
Media houses affected by the directive include Capital FM,Beat FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM, Radio Simba and Akaboozi, NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV.

A cross section of Ugandans including politicians and lawyers have come out to condemn the move by UCC describing it as draconian and clamping down on media freedom.

UJA demands for resignation of UCC’s Mutabazi

By Deo Wasswa

Uganda Journalists under their umbrella, Uganda journalists association (UJA) are demanding the executive director of Uganda communications commission, Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi to resign.

While commemorating the world press freedom day, journalists have expressed disappointment over UCC’s directive to 13 media to suspend producers, Editors and program directors over alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards .

Journalist say this was unfair since the affected media houses since UCC did not give them a change to meet them formally and explain to them the offense they committed and how to avoid the mess in future.

In her remarks, Marcy Lugemwa the UJA vice president has noted that Mr. Mutabazi should withdraw his directive with immediate effect and failure to this, the journalists will soon match to the headquarters of Uganda communications commission in a peaceful protest.
They also are calling upon president Museveni to appoint a new executive director for UCC who has a media background and knows how media house operate and not an engineer as the current executive director.

In his remarks, delivered by Minister for general duties Mary Karoro Okuru the deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanya has urged journalists to avoid reporting un-researched stories and stories that may incite rather than inform the public.
He further called upon the journalist to desist from stories that are inflammatory stories.
“This day also offers people an opportunity to discuss challenges facing the country as far as press freedom is concerned, deputy speaker added.

Speaking at the same celebrations The Uganda Human Rights Commission called for dialogue to resolve the impasse between the Media and the Uganda Communications Commission- UCC.
Dr Meddie Kaggwa, the chairperson of the Commission said this after journalists under the Uganda Journalists Association called for resignation of Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, the Chief Executive of Uganda Communications Commission.

Speaking at the Commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on Friday, Dr Kaggwa said the UCC should accept to dialogue with the affected media companies.
He asked government to improve legal regime for the practice of journalism.
“Today’s commemoration reminds us of our duty as a country to strive to entrench a just system that supports free and safe journalism. So it is our call today to all the relevant stake holders to improve the legal regime in Uganda by reviewing those archache laws that curtail media freedom whenever they apply. Once again we make an ardent call to the relevant authorities to ensure that legal framework is conducive for effective media practice”said UHRC Kaggwa
The day has been commemorated under the theme ‘’media for democracy, journalism and election in times of disinformation”.

Cabinet approves principles of amending foreign exchange act

By Moses kidandi

Cabinet has approved principles of amending the foreign exchange Act 2004 and money remittances regulation .

The objectives of the amendments include strengthening provisions in existing law that are considered inadequate in execution of Bank of Uganda’s mandate regarding supervision of Forex bureaus and money remittances.

Addressing journalists at media center, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said the country has Many developments in technological communication and money transfers hence the need to revise the law

He also says it is to make regulatory provisions for new business trends and technological developments not provided for among others .

Man remanded to Luzira for defying UCC directive on public radio speakers

By Sania Babirye

A man who defied  a directive from the Uganda Communication Commission against  operating a public radio speaker commonly  known as Kizindaalo has finally  pleaded guilty to the charge.

Gerald Ssemwanga who has been on remand in Luzira prison since  last week accepted the offense before  Buganda Road court  Chief Magistrate James Eremye Mawanda .

He was charged with  installing and operating a public raido apparatus without a license contrary to section 27 of the UCC Act but first denied the charge.

The magistrate has now set the 6th of June  to hand him his sentence and remanded him to Luzira prison   until then.

A content Regulation manager with UCC  Paul Mukasa testified against Ssemwanga on Monday  this week that they arrested Ssemwanga on the 27th of March 2017 from Kabawo zone in Rubaga division in Kampala district  illegally broadcasting before confiscating his equipments.

On the 8th of February 2017 UCC issued a  directive ordering all people operating the commonly Bizindalo without a license to dismantle  and take them down because they were operating illegally .

UCC kicks three telecom companies out of business

Three Telecoms in Uganda have had their licences revoked by Uganda Communications Commission in accordance with Section 41 of the Communications Act 2013.

The Telecoms whose licences have been revoked are Smart Telecom, One Solution and Foris Telecom.

Smart Telecom has been offering both Voice and Data solutions. In June 2016, it launched its Mobile Money transffer Service, SmartPesa unto its service offerings.

Foris and One Solutions have been offering data services.

The public has been warned against transacting business with the above parties or to do so at their own peril.

 

-PC Tech