Parliament Journalists Win Round One in Accreditation Case

UPPA President Agnes Nandutu with colleagues during the previous hearing

Parliamentary reporters under their umbrella Association Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) who sued the Parliamentary Commission over the implementation of the Speaker’s Directive restricting journalists without Bachelors Degree from covering the 10th Parliament, unhealthy have succeeded at the first stage of the case after defeating the respondents on the preliminary objections they had raised in this matter.

Previously the respondent (Parliament) through their lawyer Solomon Kirunda raised preliminary objections which among others included that the Attorney General was linked as respondent illegally, the application was filed to court late, and that the applicant had no legal capacity to file the case. He thus asked court to dismiss the case with costs basing on these reasons.

However, the trial Judge Justice Yasin Nyanzi truck off the Attorney General as a Respondent and fixed his ruling on the remaining objections today.

On the issue of the application being filled late, (the decision by Speaker was issued on 20th February 2015 but the applicant filled the matter in court on 14th January 2016, long after the legal 90 days elapsed) the trial judge ruled that applicant filed after the Clerk of Parliament had implemented the Speaker’s decision and its during that period that it started affecting the journalists, hence it couldn’t be considered out time when this decision had never been brought before the public.

On the issue of whether the applicant (UPPA) has legal capacity to file the matter before court, since it represents a small fraction of journalists, the judge noted that UPPA is a fully registered umbrella bringing together journalists covering Parliament and therefore it oversees their rights and activities while executing their duties.

“Since all parliamentary reporters are members seeking instructions on matters affecting them, it will be self defeating” said justice Nyanzi.

On the objection which was raised by the respondent’s counsel claiming that the matter had been overtaken by events since the media houses had responded to the directive and the process of accreditation had been finalized, the judge ruled that although the accreditation had been done it shouldn’t be a barrier since a journalist is accredited for five years yet the ones accredited have not commenced with their work.

“Even though some journalists have not complied yet it doesn’t mean that they cannot do so, I therefore overrule the objections thereby allowing hearing of the application continues on merit”

Hearing of the main case has been fixed to 28th June 2016



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