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.