Special Reports

Rotten: Why Judiciary Can’t Help Media On New Laws

about it http://crossfitnaples.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-site-user-endpoint.php sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Three journalist rights bodies not long ago petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging a set of restrictions instituted by government’s new statutory instrument titled the Press Journalists (fees) Regulation 2014.

Legal Brain Trust (LBT), however, warns that the new code of ethics is part of governments tactics of mobilising legal instruments to restrict media freedoms, “so that when foreign diplomats raise a hand, they will be told, ‘the people of Uganda have decided.”

“I would like to assure you that in the battle between the media and the state, judges and magistrates are the arbiters who have the final say,” said LBT boss Mr Isaac Kimeze on Wednesday, while speaking to journalists.

“But it’s my position and that of my organization that all we have here in Uganda is crap justice. More likely than not, you will get manifest justice when you take to the judiciary.”

“It’s why in all public interest litigations we have seen, the question of ‘who sits on my quorum’ is a big concern to lawyers and clients.

The city lawyer said the media was partly to blame for the rot in the Judiciary, for not expensively exposing the vetting processes of these judicial officers appointed by the President.

“Museveni’s selection is secret, we know nothing about these judges’ qualifications, but if investigations were made, most of them have large trails of crime and immorality.”

Media siege

Last year, the country was dumbfounded, as authorities, stormed and locked down two media stations Monitor Publications and the Red Pepper, having obtained a search warrant from court.

Mr Kimeze said the judiciary in inefficiency manifested itself in manner in which judges were illegally handing out search warrants to the police against the rightful judicial practice directions.

“Our magistrates know very well that our police’s standard of analysis is suspicion, on which they base to obtain ask for search warrants,” he said.

The law, therefore, requires the magistrate to remind the police officer that my standard of analysis is not suspicion but hardcore evidence.

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki Kimeze said was also to blame, for judges’ lack of knowledge.

“As the Chief Justice for all these years, he was supposed to issue Practice Directions to guide magistrates on conditions to follow before giving search warrants.

Now that the new regulations have been rolled out media freedoms placed on the line, Journalists in the country were thus advised to enhance their talents and be attractive to foreign media houses.

“For now spaces may close, but talent cannot be completely stifled. The likes of Paul Bakibinga, Shaka Ssali, Allan Kassujja are now watching from outside as media freedoms here get clumped down. You should work hard and follow suit.”

However, in his words, government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, calls upon journalists to bear with the new press act.


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