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Court fixes hearing date for consolidated suits against UCC

FILE PHOTO: Uganda Communications Commission

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | High Court has set June 13 to hear consolidated suits challenging the directive by Uganda Communications Commission-UCC to thirteen media houses to suspend staff for alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting standards.

High Court Civil Division Judge, Lydia Mugambe will hear the consolidated suits filed by Uganda Journalists Association-UJA and city lawyers, Ronald Bwire and Henry Byansi, according to hearing notice issued on Monday morning.

The applications seek to quash UCC’s directive to 13 Media houses to suspend their news editors, producers and program managers for alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards.

The affected media houses are Radio Two alias Akaboozi FM, BBS TV, Beat FM, Kingdom TV, Bukedde TV, NBS TV, NTV, Pearl FM, Salt TV, Sapientia FM, Simba FM and Capital FM.

On April 30th, 2019, UCC directed the media houses to submit names, particulars and qualifications of the affected employees within three days. UCC also demanded recordings of all live programs and news bulletins aired on April, 29th, 2019, the day the Kyaddondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine appeared before Buganda Road Court to plead to charges of inciting violence.

However, UJA and the two lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the directive, arguing that infringes on the journalist’s freedom of expression and publication. The applicants through their lawyers of Mugisha and Company Advocates also allege that UCC’s directive is inconsistent with the constitutional provision of the freedom of expression and want court to declare it null and void, saying journalists are likely to suffer irreparable harm and damage.

Last month, Justice Lydia Mugambe issued a temporary injunction blocking UCC from implementing the said directive. Mugambe noted that UCC should have reported the matter to Police, which would investigate and refer the file to the Directorate of Public Prosecution to press charges against the journalists if their violated the minimum broadcasting standards.

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