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Ugandan journalists, activists and telecom companies reject communications law amendment

HRNJ-Uganda

This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 13 December 2016.

Different players have rejected the proposal by the Ugandan cabinet to amend the Uganda Communications Act of 2013 to give more powers to the Minister of Information and Communications Technology to regulate communications in Uganda

Journalists led by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda's (HRNJ-Uganda) National Coordinator Robert Ssempala, Lawyer Kenneth Ntende and IMCU's Haruna Kannabi, students from Nkumba University (represented by their guild presidents Henry Byansi and Namuyiga Ruth), MTN and Airtel Telecom companies represented by Ronald Zakumumpa and Denis Kakonge and Godfrey Bakibinga respectively, a Rights body Foundation For Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) (represented by Lizet Blamings and Dr. Rebecca Amoro) all rejected the proposed amendment today while appearing before the Parliamentary committee on ICT, chaired by its Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Maxuell Akora at Parliament in Kampala.

The cabinet wants to amend Section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 which requires the Parliament to approve all the regulations made by the Minister in charge of communication

All the groups told the ICT Committee that amending the law would give the minister wild and unchecked powers over the communications sector which would in effect cripple freedom of expression, speech and the media and stifle accountability of government. They argued that the said section of the law has not been tested to know whether it is applicable or not, and wondered the rush by cabinet

During the 9th Parliament, the ICT Minister then, Eng. John Nassasira tabled the Uganda Communications Amendment Bill 2016 before Parliament seeking to amend Section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 to remove the requirement for Parliamentary approval of the regulations made by the Minister.

The bill was pushed to the current 10 th Parliament which is now seeking for views from the various stakeholders.

Committee members including Hon. Maxuell, Peter Ssematimba, Lee Anguzu, Bernard Atiku commended the presenters for ably articulating their concerns, and assured them that an independent report would be generated which would be presented to Parliament.

To see the presentation made by HRNJ-Uganda before the committee, click here.

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