UCC Ordered by Court not to Implement Suspension of Journalists

The High Court in Kampala has ordered Uganda Communication Commission not to implement its order for suspension of several journalists over stories related to Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine.

UCC in an April 30 communication ordered 13 media houses to suspend 39 news managers, producers and heads of production as investigations into what they termed as violation of minimum broadcast standards go on.
In their application, journalists under their umbrella body, the Uganda Journalists Association sought for a temporary injunction halting the suspension of the journalists before the main application is disposed of by court.

On Thursday, Justice Lydia Mugambe said she was convinced if the temporary injunction is not granted, there would be an effect on the journalists mentioned in the order by UCC.

“An injunction is issued stopping UCC from implementing the said order until the main case is disposed of,” Justice Mugambe said.

In their defence, UCC said their order stemmed from an alert from security agencies in regards the conduct of the affected journalists which they said would amount to incitement of violence.

The regulator in its defence said it acted on the complaints by security agencies to order for suspension of the journalists.

However, in her ruling, Justice Mugambe said she was not convinced by UCC’s explanation, stressing that the complaint by security agencies should have been logged at police for investigation and criminal charges slapped on the said journalists.

“National security should not be an excuse for trampling on citizen’s rights. The threat of incitement of violence should have been demonstrated,” the judge said.

“I am not satisfied whether the threat rose to the level of that directive (by UCC).”

On the claims that the order had been changed into stepping aside and not being suspended, the judge said the move by UCC to meet broadcasters was a diversionary move meant to defeat justice for journalists which she said cannot be allowed.

Justice Lydia Mugambe ordered UCC not to implement the April 30 directive until the main case is disposed of.In their April 30 communication, UCC ordered a number of media houses including; NBS TV, NTV, Salt TV, BBS TV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV, Capital FM, CBS FM, Simba FM, Pearl FM, Akaboozi FM, Beat FM, and Sapientia FM, to suspend their producers, head of news and head of programs or else they risk sanctions prompting NAB to write back to them asking for a reversal of the orders.