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.