Journalists’ Rights Body Opposes UCC Amendment Bill


The Human Rights Network for Journalists has opposed the Uganda Communications Amendment Bill 2016 that is currently being debated before the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications Technology.

The Bill seeks to give the Minister of Information and Communications Technology powers to regulate media activities without necessarily requiring the approval of Parliament.

The framers of the Bill argue that the Sections of the UCC Act 2013 are contradictory since Section 93(1) says “the Minister may, order after consultation with the Authority and with the approval of Parliament, information pills by statutory instrument, cure make regulations for better carrying into effect the provisions of this Act”.

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And Section 93(3) of the same act again requires the Minister to present before Parliament the regulations made.

The National Coordinator for Human Rights Network for Journalists, Robert Ssempala and his team while appearing before the ICT Committee of Parliament on Monday to give their views on the same matter, said there is no contradiction in the current form of the Act and that it is standard for checks and balance.

“When the two sections are read carefully, Section 93(1) is fundamental on checking the excesses of the minister when formulating regulations that will affect the right to communication. It makes it mandatory for the Minister to seek parliamentary approval in making the regulations,” Mr. Ssempala said.

According to Ssempala, the contentious Section 93(1) is inevitable to safeguard the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature.

“Section 93(1) does not jeopardize the operations of the Minister and the Uganda Communications Commission. It only sets a strict standard on how the minister formulates the regulations, promotes and protects the doctrine of separation of powers, a fundamental pillar in a democracy.”
He concluded that there is no conflict between the two sections and the ministry and UCC’s fear is based on misconception.

“Section 93(3) is very clear; it only requires the regulations made by the Minister to be tabled before Parliament. The said conflict between section 93(1) and 93(3) by the Minister is misconceived and non-existent.”


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