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Ugandan court declines to hear SIM card registration case

The High Court in Kampala has declined to hear the SIM-card registration case, saying that the exercise had already ended earlier in the year.

In his ruling on the preliminary objections raised by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the telecom service providers , the High Court Judge, Yasin Nyanzi said that, "continued litigation will not yield any practical remedies, since the registration exercise ended on 31st August 2013." He added that, "seeking a declaration on a matter that ended will be for academic purposes".

However, he upheld the human rights concerns on privacy and data protection raised in the suit. He said the fact that the case has been overtaken by events was not the fault of the applicants, but due to other independent factors, which he never mentioned. Justice Nyanzi ruled that HRNJ-Uganda and Legal Brains Trust had the mandate to file the case, followed the procedure and that there was merit in the case.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) and Legal Brains Trust challenged the exercise arguing that it was marred with irregularities, anomalies, illegalities and inconsistencies, which included invasion of privacy.

"The legal and human rights concerns raised in the case have not been addressed; the regulator (UCC), telecom companies and government have been left unchecked. Our concerns are still in existence because SIM-card registration is an ongoing process," said Sempala Robert , National Coordinator of HRNJ-Uganda.

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