Lawyers challenge UCC report, want Mutabazi imprisoned

UCC places 13 radios, TVs under fresh investigations
Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Two city lawyers have run to the High Court Civil Division accusing Uganda Communications Commission and its executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi for contempt of court. They are Ronald Bwire and Henry Byansi of Mayende and Associated Advocates.

This comes a day after UCC issued a report implicating NTV, NBS, BBS, Bukedde TV and Radio Sapientia for alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards as provided for in the Uganda Communications Act 2013. UCC asked the stations to show cause why their licenses shouldn’t be revoked.

However in their application before court, Ronald Bwire and Henry Byansi, say the report by UCC pre-empts an on-going application for judicial review on the same matter, which is before court. In their sworn affidavit seen by URN, the applicants accuse UCC and Mutabazi for disregarding court orders and violating the subjudice rule when they conducted investigations and published the said report.

In May 2019, the applicants and Aron Kiiza, the lawyer of Uganda Journalist Association challenged a directive by UCC to 13 media organizations to suspend at least 39 journalists, saying it was an infringement on the constitutional rights of journalists.

It came after UCC directed NTV, NBS TV, Bukedde TV, BBS TV, Salt TV and Kingdom TV and as well as seven radio stations; Capital FM, Akaboozi, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM, Beat FM, and Radio Simba to suspend their producers, head of news and program managers for covering the arrest coverage of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and subsequent riots that broke out in parts of Kampala city on April 29.

Read Also: UCC report finds five media houses ‘guilty’ of breaching minimum broadcasting standards

The lawyers applied for an interim injunction pending the disposal of their application for a judicial review of the UCC directive and challenged its powers to direct the suspension of employees of a media house. High court, Judge Lydia Mugambe ruled that UCC’s directive was illegal since it violated the journalist’s rights of freedom of speech, expression and publication among others as enshrined in the constitution.